|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
November 7, 2000
Mr. Michael C. Hayes
Dear Mr. Hayes:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 141021.
The City of Brookshire (the "city"), which you represent, received a request for "[a]ll Internal Revenue 1099 Forms sent to individuals and businesses for the 1999 calendar year." You claim that the requested information is excepted from disclosure under section 552.101 of the Government Code. We have considered the exception you claim and reviewed the submitted representative samples of information.(1)
Section 552.101 excepts from disclosure "information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision." This section encompasses information protected by other statutes. Prior decisions of this office have held that title 26, section 6103(a) of the United States Code renders tax return information confidential. Attorney General Opinion H-1274 (1978) (tax returns); Open Records Decision Nos. 600 (1992) (W-4 forms), 226 (1979) (W-2 forms). Generally, any information gathered by the Internal Revenue Service regarding a taxpayer's liability under title 26 of the United States Code is confidential. Mallas v. Kolak, 721 F. Supp. 748 (M.D.N.C. 1989); Dowd v. Calabrese, 101 F.R.D. 427 (D.C. 1984). After reviewing your arguments, we find that you must withhold the 1099 forms from disclosure under section 552.101 as information deemed confidential by federal statute.
If this ruling requires or permits the governmental body to withhold all or some of the requested information, the requestor can appeal that decision by suing the governmental body. Id. § 552.321(a); Texas Department of Public Safety v. Gilbreath, 842 S.W.2d 408,411 (Tex. App.--Austin 1992, no writ).
Please remember that under the Act the release of information triggers certain procedures for costs and charges to the requestor. If records are released in compliance with this ruling, be sure that all charges for the information are at or below the legal amounts. Questions or complaints about over-charging must be directed to the General Services Commission at 512/475-2497.
Noelle C. Letteri
Ref: ID# 141021
Encl. Submitted documents
cc: Mr. Mikel Leff
1. We assume that the "representative sample" of records submitted to this office is truly representative of the requested records as a whole. See Open Records Decision Nos. 499 (1988), 497 (1988). Here, we do not address any other requested records to the extent that those records contain substantially different types of information than those submitted to this office.