Revenue Administrative Bulletin 1993-1

Approved: April 8, 1993

 

DISCLOSURE OF TAX RETURN INFORMATION -
SUBPOENAS, COURT ORDERS AND SEARCH WARRANTS

(Replaces Revenue Administrative Bulletin 1989-40)

RAB-93-1. This bulletin incorporates the amendments to the Revenue Act, MCL 205.28(l)(f); MSA 7.657(28)(1)(f) made by Public Act 13 of 1993. This amendment established the standards for the Department of Treasury's compliance with a judicial order compelling production of tax returns and tax return information, and statutorily limits the persons or parties who may obtain a judicial order compelling the Department to provide tax returns and tax return information.

Disclosure of tax returns and tax return information to someone other than the taxpayer is statutorily restricted to protect taxpayer confidentiality. Generally, Treasury's Disclosure Officer makes the initial determination regarding disclosure.

Tax returns or tax return information may be open to inspection by or disclosed to employees and representatives of Treasury's Bureau of Revenue if disclosure is required for proper administration of a tax law administered under the Revenue Act. Tax administration includes assessment, collection, enforcement, litigation, and statistical gathering functions under existing laws and statutes.

Further, tax returns or tax return information may be open to inspection by or disclosure to a third party pursuant to a judicial order issued by a court, consistent with the requirements of 1941 P.A. 122, section MCL 205.28(l)(f); MSA 7.657(28)(1)(f), as follows:

  1. An agency charged with the duty of enforcing or investigating support obligations pursuant to an order of the court in a domestic relations matter as described in MCL 552.531; MSA 25.176(31); or
     
  2. An agency of the federal, state, or local government charged with the responsibility of administering or enforcing criminal law for purposes of investigating or prosecuting criminal matters or federal or state grand jury proceedings; or
     
  3. Pursuant to a judicial order, if the taxpayer's liability for a tax administered under the Revenue Act is to be adjudicated by the court that issues that order.

In determining whether to release tax returns or tax return information in response to a court's request, the Department differentiates between compelling production of tax return information versus compelling appearance and production of tax return information.

Production of Information Only

A judicial order signed by a judge or magistrate of a court of competent jurisdiction compelling the production of tax returns and tax return information for discovery or photocopying will be honored for judicial and administrative proceedings described above.

Subpoenas signed by an officer of a court (other than the judge or magistrate) compelling the production of tax returns and tax return information for discovery or photocopying will not be honored. These documents are not "judicial orders," as indicated in Revenue Administrative Bulletin 1989-39.

Appearance and Production of Information

A judicial order signed by a judge or magistrate or a court of competent jurisdiction compelling an appearance and the production of tax returns and tax return information will be honored for judicial and administrative proceedings described above.

Subpoenas signed by an officer of a court (other than the judge or magistrate) of competent jurisdiction compelling an appearance and the production of tax returns and tax return information will be honored for judicial and administrative proceedings described above.

Limitation of Judicial Orders

It is the understanding of the Department of Treasury that the legislation most recently adopted limits the persons or parties who may obtain a judicial order compelling the production or disclosure of taxpayer information only to agencies investigating support obligations in domestic relations matters, agencies investigating criminal matters, and pursuant to a judicial order where the taxpayer's tax liability is to be adjudicated. No judicial orders should be issued at the request of any other party or in any other circumstance.

Example: Attorney Jones subpoenas Treasury's Disclosure Officer on behalf of his client, Credit Corporation. The subpoena requests copies of Michigan income tax returns for 1991 and 1992. The subpoena is signed by a judge. The Disclosure Officer refuses to comply with the subpoena and sends a written reply to Attorney Jones. The subpoena does not fit the criteria of domestic relations support investigation, tax judicatory procedures, or criminal investigation. For those reasons, the Disclosure Officer rightfully refuses to comply with the subpoena.