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BOARD OF EQUALIZATION

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BOARD OF EQUALIZATION
STAT;
OF CALIFORNIA
GEORGE R. REILLY
First District, San Francisco
BOARD OF EQUALIZATION
0 i4 STREET, SACRAMENTO,
1799, SACRAMENTO,
CALIFORNIA
CALIFORNIA
IRIS SANKEY
Second District, San Diego
95808)
WILLIAM M. BENNETT
Third District, San Rafael
RICHARD NEVINS
Fourth District, Pasadena
KENNETH CORY
Confroffer, Sacramento
S&ptember 13, 19’78
.
TO COUNTYASSESSORS:
ATTORNEYGENERAL'S OPINION CV 78/52
The enclosed Attorney General's Opinion No. CV 78/52 is in regard to
disclosing
information
to members of the Timber Advisory Committee or
The conclusion
is that the State Board of
to county assessors.
Equalization
may not divulge information
it obtains in administering
Revenue and Taxation Code Section 38204 regarding timber sales
transactions
unless so authorized
by order of the Governor or by
parties to timber sales transactions.
Sincerely,
Verne Walton, Chief
Assessment Standards Division
VW:sk
&closure
DOUGLAS D. BELL
Executive Secrefcrry
OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
State of California
.
EFLLE J. YOUNGER
Attorney
General
----------------------------------------
OPINION
No. CV 78/52
of
AUGUST 29,
EVELLEJ.
YOUNGER
Attorney
General
RODNEY LILYQUIST,
JR.
Deputy Attorney
General
1978
.THE HONORABLE DOUGLAS D. BELL, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY
OF THE STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATION, has requested
an opinion
on the following
question:
May the State
Board of Equalization
disclose
to
members of the Timber Advisory
Committee or to county assessors
information
it obtains
in administering
Revenue and Taxation
Code section
38204 regarding
timber
sales transactions?
.
. The conclusion
is:
The State Board of Equalization
may not divulge
to
members of the Timber Advisory
Committee
or to county assessors
information
it obtains
in administering
Revenue and Taxation
Code section
38204 reqarding
timber
sales transactions
unless
by order
of the Governor or by the parties
to
so authorized
the timber
sales transactions.
f
ANALYSIS
Pursuant
to article
XIII,
section
3, subdivision
(j)
of the California
Constitution,
the Legislature
in 1976
completely
revised
the system of taxation
for growing
timber
and timberlands
in the state.
With the passage of the Timber
Yield Tax Law (Rev. & Tax. Code, SS 38101-38908),
I/ standing
1.
All
and Taxation
section
references
hereafter
are
Code unless otherwise
s_pecified.
1.
to
the
Revenue
timber
is now exempt from local
property
taxes and instead
Although
is subject
to a state
tax at the time of harvest.
the tax is administered
and collected
by the State Board of
the revenue is primarily
redistributed
Equalization
(Board),
to the counties
and local
tax agencies
to replace
the property
(55 38901-38906.
)
taxes which had previously
been collected.
*
Under the statutory
scheme, the tax rate is applied
to the net volume of harvested
timber calculated
at its
"immediate
harvest
valuelR
defined
as the amount the "timber
would sell
for on the stump at a voluntary
sale made in the
ordinary
course of business
for purposes of immediate
harvest."
Every six months the Board is required
to estimate
(5 38109.)
the immediate
harvest
value of each species or subclassification
of timber
within
the various
specified
timber areas of the
The values are to be determined:
state,
from the best evidence
available,
including
(1)
g;ois'proceeds
from sales on the stump of similar
timber
of like
quality
and character
at similar
locations,
or
(2) gross proceeds
from sales of logs, or of finished
adjusted
to reflect
only the portion
of such
products,
proceeds
attributable
to value on the stump immediately
or a combination
of (1) and (2), and
prior
to harvest,
shall
be determined
in a manner which makes reasonable
allowance
for differences
in age, size,
quality,
cost
of removal,
accessibility
to point of conversion,
market
conditions
and other relevant
factors."
.(S 38204.)
II
In order to perform
its statutory
duty of estimating
the immediate
harvest
values,
the Board requires
the reporting
of significant
amounts of information
from parties
to timber
sales transactions
throughout
the state.
If necessary,
the
information
can be obtained
from the parties
through
the
exercise
of the Board's
subpena power.
(Gov. Code, § 15613,)
The question
presented
for analysis
concerns
whether
the Board may disclose
the information
received
by it regarding
timber
sales transactions
obtained
pursuant
to section
36204.
The proposed
recipients
of the information
are members of
the Timber Advisory
CommIttee
(Committee)
and local
county
assessors.
For similar
reasons,
we conclude
that neither
group may receive
the information
obtained
by the Board in
administering
section
38204 unless so authorized
by the
Governor or by the parties
to the transactions.
The controlling
statute
is section
38705,
which
provides:
"Except
as provided
in Section
38402, it is unlab.ful
for the board or any person having an administrative
duty under this part to make known in any manner whataver
l
2.
e
.
.
?.-
.-
_
_
I‘*
=
.
.
.
the business
affairs,
operations,
or any other
information pertaining
to any timber
owner or any other person
required
to report
to the board or pay a tax pursuant
or the amount or source of income, profits,
to this part,
expenditures,
or any particular
thereof,
set
losses,
forth
or disclosed
in any return,
or to permit
any
or any book containing
any abstract
return
or copy thereof
or particulars
thereof
to be seen or examined by any
However, the Governor may, by general
or special
person.
authorize
examination
by
other
state
officers,
order,
by tax officers
of another
state,
by the federal
governarrangement
exists,
or by any
ment, if a reciprocal
other person of the records
maintained
by the board
The information
so obtained
pursuant
under this part.
to the order of the Governor-shall
not be made public
except to the extent
and in the manner that the order
may authorize
that it be made public."
In interpreting
section
38705, we must ascertain
the legislative
intent
so as to effectuate
the purpose of
(Cossack
v.
City
of
Los
Angeles
(1974)
1 1 Cal.3d
law.
the
Base Materials
v. Board of Equal.
(1959) 51
726, 732 Select
Where the language
of a statute
is clear,
Cal. .2d 6 0, 645.)
meaning should be followed
in carrying
out the
its plai
(Great Lakes Properties,
inc. v. Citv
legislative
purpose.
of El Segundo (1977) 19 Cal.3d
152, 155; Leroy T. v. Workmen's
434, 438.)
Comp. Appeals
Bd. (1974) 12 Cal.3d
The requirement
for confidentiality
under section
fosters
the complete
and accurate
reporting
of information
(See Sav-On Drugs, Inc. v. Superior
Court
to the Board.
The Board's
ability
to perform
its
(1975) 15 Cal.3d
1, 6.)
responsibilities
might be impaired
if those supplying
it
with information
were not assured
that such information
would be kept confidential
from the public,
particularly
business
competitors.
2/
38705
Although
section
38705 provides
for exceptions
as
ordered
by the Governor,
we have been informed
that neither
the members of the Committee
nor county assessors
have been
authorized
by the Governor
to examine the Board's
records.
We further
note
the statute
with regard
to
allows
county assessors
to
the quarterly
tax returns
that an exception
is made under
The latter
statute
section
38402.
receive
upon request
copies of
The
filed
by the timber
owners.
The parties
to the transactions
may of course waive
2.
the nondisclosure
provision
of section
38705 established
for
their
benefit.
(See Crest Catcrirrq
Co. v. Superior
Court
(1965) 62 Ca1.2d 274, 277-279;
:r'lison
v. Superior
Court
(1976) 63 Cal.App.3d
825, 828.)
3.
CV 78/52
1
a-.
.
1 I
.
.
I
information
contained
in such returns,
however,
is not the
of information
received
by the Board in administering
38402 exception
is inapsection
38204, and thus the section
plicable
to our discussion.
type
the Legislature
could have provided
Manifestly,
for disclosure
to Committee
members and to county assessors
under section
38705, if it had wished to do SO. 2/ We cannot
that disclosure
was intended
for either
presume,
however,
group because the statute
allows
exceptions
in other circumstances.
(See Wildlife
Alive
v. Chickering
11976) 18 Cal.3d
190, 195; People ex rel.
Cranston
v. Eonelli
(1971) 15 Cal.App.3d
129, 135.)
Applying
the plain
meaning of the words used in
section
38705 to effectuate
the goal of complete
and accurate
we conclude
that neither
the Committee
members
reporting,
nor the county assessors
may receive
confidential
information
obtained
by the Board in estimating
the immediate
harvest
values.
(See Webb v. Standard
Oil Co. (1957) 49 Cal.2d
509,
512-513;
52 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen.
194, 146 (1969);
2 Ops,Cal.Atty.
Gen. 244, 246 (19431.)
Significantly,
we do not believe
that the ability
of the Committee
members or county assessors
to perform
their
functions
will
be impaired
by the strict
application
of section
38705.
The Committee
is composed of ten members, five
representing
county assessors,
two representing
timber
the Board and the Board
owners, and one each representing
of Forestry.
(S 431, subd. (c).1
The present
statutory
duties
of the Committee
are to consult
with the Board every
third
year regarding
the value of the various
grades of
timberland
and to consult
with the Board every
six months
regarding
the estimates
of immediate
harvest
values.
(SS 434.5,
l
*.*
*
*
*
Section
38705 is patterned
after
section
7556,
3.
allowing
disclosure
Ly th-?
which has additional
paraqrsphs
Board to authorized
officers
and employees of cities,
cour.tit-::
and districts.
4.
as
‘~
s
’
l“,’
These duties
are advisory
in
(a), 38204, subd. (a).)
nature and encompass no administrative
responsibilities.
4/
The basic flow of information
is from the Committee
members
The
to the Board, not from the Board to the Committee.
Committee members can adequately
perform
their
consultation
function
by providing'information
concerning
valuation
their
expertise
to any questions
procedures
and by applying
raised by the Board.
subd.
.
As with the Committee members, the county assessors
can satisfactorily
perform
their
statutory
duties
even
though certain
information
may not be disclosed
to them by
First,
the information
the' Board under section
38705.
contained
in the tax returns
obtainable
by them from the
Board under section
38402 may furnish
all
the relevant
information
necessary.
Second, the assessors
have their
own power to obtain
the records
of individual
property
owners should additional
specific
data be required.
(§§ 441,
It is thus apparent
that the provisions
of section
38705
470.)
will
not prevent
county assessors
from performing
their
responsibilities.
In summary, it is our conclusion
that the Board
not divulge
to Committee members or to county assessors
data related
to timber
sales transactions
obtained
in administering
section
38204 unless so authorized
by order of the
Governor or unless the parties
to the transactions
waive
the confidentiality
provisions
of section
38705.
may
******
To insure
that the harvested
timber bears an equitable
4.
flow in a
and proportionate
tax share and that the proceeds
continual
and stable
manner to the local
agencies,
the
legislative
analyst
(and not the Committee)
is charged with
revenue distribution
mechanisms,
reviewing
the yield
tax rate,
and land valuation
procedures
every four years;
the legislative
"from the various
counties
and agencies
analyst
may request
of the state
whatever
information
is necessarya
for the
(S 38205.)
performance
of this statutory
duty.
5.
CV 78/52
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