The suit was brought by taxpayer Mark Sommer, a longtime state tax attorney and contributor to State Tax Notes, who sought these documents in order to better represent his clients. Sommer sued for the documents under the Kentucky Open Records Act, which requires that public agencies open most of their records to the public. Tax Analysts had also filed record requests for final decisions from the Kentucky DOR to inform its readers of tax policy developments and rulings by the DOR. However, when the DOR denied its latest request, the organization joined Sommer's case.
In his opinion in Sommer v. Finance and Administration Cabinet, Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd concluded that the state's taxpayer confidentiality statutes do not provide a basis for the DOR to withhold its final rulings and ordered the department to release redacted versions of those rulings to Sommer and Tax Analysts.
"The court has sent a clear message not only to the Kentucky Department of Revenue on the importance of transparency in tax administration, but to other states as well,” said Christopher Bergin, president and publisher of Tax Analysts. “Taxpayers have a fundamental right to know what their government is doing and how it is interpreting or administering the tax laws. It really is as simple as that."
As part of its education mission, Tax Analysts seeks to establish transparency in the tax laws and more dialogue between tax authorities and taxpayers. Through these and other efforts, Tax Analysts works to ensure that the tax laws are applied fairly and equally to taxpayers across the country.
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For more information or to speak to Bergin or one of our experts, please contact Shaima Cardillo at 703-531-4852 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Shannon Meraw at 703-531-4835 or Shannon_meraw@tax.org.
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