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General Laws

Section 21. (a) The disclosure by the commissioner, or by any deputy, assistant, clerk or assessor, or other employee of the commonwealth or of any city or town therein, to any person but the taxpayer or his representative, of any information contained in or set forth by any return or document filed with the commissioner, except in proceedings or other activities to determine or collect the tax or for the purpose of criminal prosecution under this chapter, chapters sixty A, sixty-two to sixty-five C, inclusive, section ten of chapter one hundred and twenty-one A and section twenty-one of chapter one hundred and thirty-eight, is prohibited.

(b) Nothing herein shall be construed to prevent

(1) the disclosure of information contained in inventories filed under section twenty-two of chapter sixty-five.

(2) the inspection of returns or documents filed pursuant to section seventeen of this chapter or section twenty-two of chapter sixty-five by persons, or their representatives, likely to become charged with the payment of taxes in connection therewith;

(3) the disclosure of information contained in returns filed pursuant to subsections (a) and (k) of section sixteen and subsection (a) of section eighteen.

(4) the publication of statistics so classified as to prevent the identification of particular returns or reports and the items thereof;

(5) upon written request, the inspection by, or provision of copies to, the director of the bureau of special investigations of tax returns or other documents filed with the commissioner of revenue, including information which appears in child support enforcement files maintained by the IV-D agency as set forth in chapter 119A concerning dates and amounts of income received, employer, last known address and other information relevant to the investigation of fraud, concerning any person where there is reason to believe that such person has committed fraud under any assistance program administered by the department of transitional assistance, the executive office of health and human services, in its capacity as the single state agency for the purposes of Title XIX of the Social Security Act or any program administered by the department of children and families;

(6) the disclosure of information to duly authorized tax officials of the United States and of territories, states and political subdivisions thereof or to any duly authorized agent or agency of such territory, state or political subdivision thereof pursuant to the provisions of sections twenty-two and twenty-three of this chapter;

(7) the disclosure of information as to whether a vendor, as defined in chapters sixty-four H or sixty-four I, is registered pursuant to section sixty-seven of this chapter; or

(8) the disclosure as to whether any designated person has filed a return under this chapter with respect to any designated tax for the current or any prior year or tax period.

(9) the disclosure to the commissioner of transitional assistance or the commissioner of medical assistance, upon his written request, of the fact that a specific bank or other entity paying interest income, doing business in the commonwealth, has filed for any year a report under section 8 with respect to interest paid by it to a designated recipient of public assistance under any program administered by the department of transitional assistance or the division of medical assistance and of the amount of the interest so reported, together with the identification of the account with respect to which the interest was paid.

(10) the disclosure to the deputy director of the division of employment and training, the commissioner of public welfare, or the commissioner of veterans’ services of information necessary to ascertain or confirm the existence of fraud, abuse or improper payments to an applicant for or recipient of veterans’ benefits.

(11) the disclosure by the commissioner of a list of all taxpayers, including but not limited to individuals, trusts, partnerships, corporations, one hundred and twenty-one A corporations and other taxable entities, that are delinquent in the payment of their tax liabilities in an amount greater than twenty-five thousand dollars for a period of six months from the time the taxes were assessed, or the disclosure to the commissioner of public welfare or his designee of information as provided in section three A of chapter one hundred and eighteen. Said list shall contain the names, address, types of taxes, month and year assessed and amounts outstanding of said delinquent taxpayers.

At least ninety days prior to said disclosure of the name of any such delinquent taxpayer, the commissioner shall mail a written notice to each such delinquent taxpayer by certified mail addressed to such delinquent taxpayer at his last or usual place of business or abode detailing the amount and nature of this delinquency and the intended disclosure of this delinquency. If the delinquent tax has not been paid sixty days after said notice, the commissioner shall disclose such tax in said list of delinquent taxpayers.

Unpaid taxes shall not be deemed to be delinquent and subject to disclosure if a written agreement for payment exists without default between the taxpayer and the commissioner; or the commissioner certifies that the tax liability is under appeal or is based wholly upon a question of law that is currently under appeal before a court or the appellate tax board in another case involving the same question.

Any unauthorized disclosure made by the commissioner in good faith effort to comply with this paragraph shall not be considered a violation of this section.

(12) the disclosure to the claimant agency of information necessary to effect a set-off for debt collection pursuant to chapter sixty-two D.

(13) the disclosure of information or provision of copies of returns or documents to the IV-D agency, as set forth in chapter one hundred and nineteen A, for the purpose of locating or identifying obligors, as defined in said chapter one hundred and nineteen A, evaluating their ability to pay support and ascertaining their sources of income and types of assets pursuant to subsection (b) of section fourteen of chapter one hundred and nineteen A.

(14) the disclosure to the deputy director of the division of employment and training of information necessary to locate delinquent or unregistered employing units and individuals who have been overpaid unemployment benefits by the division of employment and training.

(15) the disclosure to the commissioner of correction upon said Commissioner’s written request, of the name, social security number, current address, or the name, identification number, or address of the employer of, an escaped prisoner for whom an outstanding warrant for arrest has been issued.

(16) Upon written request, the disclosure of information to the director of housing and community development for the purpose of ascertaining all sources of income and household income levels for applicants and tenants receiving the benefits of the state and federal housing subsidy programs administered by said director.

(17) the disclosure of return information in any judicial or administrative action, proceeding or activity relating to the conduct, job performance or personnel rights of any employee or former employee of the department of revenue, solely for use in, and only to the extent necessary for, the action, proceeding or activity, or in preparation for the action, proceeding or activity. Return information shall, upon written request, also be available to an employee or former employee of said department, or his duly authorized representative, who is or may be a party or a participant in such action, proceeding or activity to the extent that the requested information is or may be relevant thereto, solely for use in, and only to the extent necessary for, the action, proceeding or activity, or in preparation for the action, proceeding or activity. Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, return information disclosed pursuant to this paragraph shall be kept confidential.

(18) the disclosure of the name and address of a person filing any return or document with the commissioner, provided that such information shall not be disclosed if the IV-D agency has been provided with reasonable evidence of a risk of harm pursuant to section 5A of chapter 119A.

(19) the disclosure of such information as is reasonable and appropriate to the implementation and enforcement of sections 33A, 34 and 35 of chapter 64C.

(20) the disclosure to the attorney general of such information as the attorney general may require for use in enforcing clause (b) of section 2 of chapter 94E.

(21) the disclosure to the commissioner of probation of information as the commissioner may require for use in determining whether a person who has requested the appointment or assignment of counsel pursuant to chapter 211D is eligible for the services.

(22) the disclosure of any non-financial information contained on a return filed pursuant to section 10 to the division of unemployment assistance, the division of insurance and the executive office of health and human services under an interagency agreement for the enforcement or administration of chapter 118E.

(23) the disclosure of information contained in a return filed pursuant to this chapter to the executive office of health and human services to allow the department to determine if a taxpayer who claimed an exemption under section 3 of chapter 111 received health services that were reimbursed from the Health Safety Net Trust Fund under section 69 of chapter 118E or to the executive office of health and human services, in its capacity as the single state agency for the purposes of Title XIX of the Social Security Act to allow the department to verify MassHealth coverage.

(24) the disclosure of information necessary to comply with the reporting requirements of section 88,

(25) the disclosure of information necessary for administration of the local option tax imposed pursuant to section 3A of chapter 64G and chapter 64L.

(26) the disclosure to members of the Joint Enforcement Task Force on the Underground Economy and Employee Misclassification, established by Executive Order 499, of information relating to the classification by a business entity of individuals providing services to such business entity as employees or independent contractors, including but not limited to information relating to the business entity’s withholding or failure to withhold personal income tax pursuant to chapter 62B with respect to payments to particular individuals and the amount of any such payments or withholding.

(c) Any violation of this section shall be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars, or by imprisonment for not more than six months, or both, and by disqualification from holding office in the commonwealth for such period, not exceeding three years, as the court determines.

(d) The confidentiality provisions and the prohibition as to disclosure contained in this section shall apply to standards used or to be used for the selection of tax returns for examination, data used or to be used for determining such standards and such other materials as reflect audit or compliance selection criteria, audit issue criteria or audit, compliance and collection techniques, if the commissioner determines that disclosure will seriously impair assessment, collection or enforcement under the tax laws.

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