FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decison
Colette M. Letourneau,
against Docket #FIC1996-032
State of Connecticut, Department of
Revenue Services and State of Connecticut,
Department of Motor Vehicles,
November 13, 1996
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 4, 1996, at which time the complainant and respondent Department of Revenue Services (“DRS”) appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. The respondent Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”) failed to appear.
After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:
1. The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of §1-18a(a), G.S.
2. It is found that by letter to the respondent DMV dated January 2, 1996, and letter to the respondent DRS dated January 10, 1996 (“requests”), the complainant requested that she be provided with a copy of the complaint concerning the registration and use of a dealer’s license plate for her recreational vehicle (“vehicle”).
3. By letter of complaint dated January 31, 1996, and filed with this Commission on February 5, 1996, the complainant alleged that both of the respondents failed to respond to, or comply with, her record requests.
4. It is found that the subject record is a public record within the meaning of §1-18a(d), G.S.
5. It is found that the respondent DRS has a file of information relating to DRS’ sales tax assessment on the complainant’s vehicle, and that file contains an anonymous letter of complaint (“complaint”) concerning the complainant’s vehicle.
6. It is found that the complaint was received by DRS on or about October 3, 1994, and thereafter the respondent DRS initiated a motor vehicle registration inquiry that subsequently resulted in a sales tax assessment on the complainant’s vehicle.
7. The respondent DRS submitted a copy of the complaint to this Commission for in camera inspection pursuant to §1-21j-35(f) of the Commission’s regulations.
8. At the hearing on this matter (“hearing”), the respondent DRS argued that the complaint is confidential tax information that is exempt from disclosure in accordance with the provisions of §§1-19(b)(10) and 12-15(d)(2), G.S.
9. At the hearing the respondent DRS did, however, agree to provide the complainant with a copy of all documentation in the complainant’s file that it deems not to be confidential, on or before July 2, 1996.
1-19(a), G.S., provides:
[e]xcept as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, all records
maintained or kept on file by any public agency … shall be public records
and every person shall have the right to inspect such records promptly
during regular office or business hours or to receive a copy of such records
in accordance with the provisions of section 1-15….
11. Section 12-15, G.S., generally prohibits disclosure of DRS’ tax returns or return information.
12. Section 12-15(a)(5), G.S., however,
[t]he [DRS] commissioner or the commissioner’s authorized agent
may disclose returns or return information to a taxpayer … upon
written request for … return information on such taxpayer ….
13. Section 12-15(d)(2), G.S., states that:
return information means a taxpayer’s identity, the nature, source, or
amount of the taxpayer’s income … tax liability … tax underreportings
… or any other data received by, recorded by, prepared by, furnished to,
or collected by the commissioner with respect to the determination of the
existence, or possible existence, of liability of any person for any tax,
penalty, interest, fine, forfeiture, or other imposition, or offense.
14. It is found that the complaint is return information within the meaning of §12-15(d)(2), G.S.
15. It is concluded, therefore, that the complaint may be withheld from public disclosure pursuant to §1-19(a), by operation of §12-15(d)(2), G.S.
16. Given the conclusion set forth in paragraph 15, of the findings, above, it is not necessary to consider the respondent DRS’ claim of exemption under §1-19(b)(10), G.S.
17. With respect to the respondent DMV, it is found that the DMV failed to respond to, or comply with the complainant’s January 2, 1996 request for the complaint.
18. Therefore, it is concluded that the respondent DMV violated §§1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to comply with the complainant’s request for a copy of the complaint.
following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the
record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. Within forty-five days of the date of mailing the notice of final decision in this case, the respondent DMV shall provide the complainant with a copy of the complaint at issue in this case, free of charge. If for any reason the respondent DMV no longer has the complaint in its files, the commissioner for the DMV, or his designated representative, shall furnish the complainant with a properly executed affidavit stating that the DMV no longer has the complaint in its files, and specifying the date and reason(s) for the removal of the complaint from the DMV’s files, within five days of the date of mailing the notice of final decision in this case.
2. Henceforth the respondent DMV shall strictly comply with the disclosure provisions of §§1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S.
3. Since the respondent DRS intends to provide the complainant with a copy of the other documents existing in her file at DRS, and given the fact that the complainant already has some knowledge or expectation about the contents of the subject complaint, the Commission urges the respondent DRS to reconsider its denial, and in the interests of fairness to the complainant provide the complainant with a copy of the anonymous complaint.
4. The complaint is hereby dismissed against the respondent DRS.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of November 13, 1996.
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
PURSUANT TO SECTION 4-180(c), G.S., THE FOLLOWING ARE THE NAMES OF EACH PARTY AND THE MOST RECENT MAILING ADDRESS, PROVIDED TO THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION, OF THE PARTIES OR THEIR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE.
THE PARTIES TO THIS CONTESTED CASE ARE:
Colette M. Letourneau
90 Anita Drive
East Hartford, CT 06118
State of Connecticut, Department of Revenue Services
c/o Paul M. Scimonelli, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
110 Sherman Street
Hartford, CT 06105
Department of Motor Vehicles
60 State Street
Wethersfield, CT 06101
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission