i BOARD OF EQUALIZATION ,
, i STATE OF CAIJFORNIA BOARD OF EQUALIZATION hrot TREET, SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA MIC: 64 SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA 94279-0001) Telephone: (916) 446-4982 MEMBER D~srrm BRAD SHERMAN Otstrm. Lot Angdcr Second ERNEST J DRONENBURG. JR Third 01strm. San Olego December 30, 1993 MATTHEW K FONG D,srr& Los Angeles Fourth Conrroffu, GRAY DAVIS Smmmenro BURTON W. OLIVER &.9clmve 0fratior No. TO COUNTY ASSESSORS: Records Available to an Assessee In letter to assessorsNo. 93/62 (The Morgan Property Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights), we discussedbriefly the amendmentsmade to Section 408 of the Revenue and Taxation Code. We have received several comments that our description of the amendments suggestedthat some data previously considered confidential is now available for an assessee’sinspection. That is not the case, and we regret any misunderstanding as a result of our letter. As we stated in 93162, Chapter 387 rearranged much of the existing language of Section 408. The letter went on to state that the act adds requirements that the assessorshall permit the assesseeor designated r&esentative to copy market data (comparable sales)and ‘inspect or copy all information, documents, and records, including auditors’ narrations and workpapers . . . relating to the appraisal and the assessmentof the assessee’s property, and any penalties and interest thereon.‘I’ We should have stated that the only new items that must be available to an assesseeor designated representativeare auditors’ narrations, auditors’ workpapers, and information, documents, and records relating to any penalties and interest. The foregoing items are for the assessee’sproperty only; they are not public documents. In our view, these records should always have been available to the assessee,so the amendment has the effect of clarifying instead of changing the law. Chapter 387 did not changethe provisions regarding the assess&s right to irzspeet,but did add the right to copy, market data and other information relating to the assessmentof the assess&s property. Chapter 387 made no changesto the prohibitions against disclosing information relating to the businessaffairs or property of another. An additional amendment to Section 408 was made by Chapter 876 (SB 1068, Wright). Chapter 876 incorporated the amendmentsmade by Chapter 387 but added the State Department of Social Servicesas an agency that has accessto assessor’srecords. Chapter 387 is an urgency statute and became effective October 6, 1993. The text of Section 408, as amendedby Chapter 387, is encfosed. Note that nearly all of former subdivision (b) was moved to (d), former subdivisions (c) and (e) became (b) and (c) respectively, and subdivision (f) was added. The significant additions to the section are highlighted in bold italic type. Not highlighted are minor 93180 December 30, 1993 wording changesand rearrangementsof sentencesand phrases. If you have questions or comments concerning the confidentiality of assessor’s records, pleasecontact either our Real Property Technical Services section or our BusinessProperty Technical Services Section. Their number is (916) 445-4982. Sincerely, Verne Walton, Chief AssessmentStandardsDivision E%lclosure ;I~ 1, ‘4, II ,((/(i 1, ,,,,:111 ‘; 11 I&/’ ..1!, ‘I’,)! /I, ” II )“‘/I I ‘: 1; ,* :I II ;;,,,/:1/1/;;:’ ,,[ I,w(;1 ,1,/”i ‘, ,/I!/ jl:i/:!i/ill 2 SECTION 408 OF THE REVENUE AND TAXATION CODE AS AMENDED BY CHAPTER 876, STAOF 1993, IN EFFECT OCTOBER 6, 1993. 4 408. (a) Except as otherwise provided in subdivisions (b), (c), (d), and (e) any information and records in the assessor’s office which are not required by law to be kept or prepared by the assessor. and homeowners’ exemption claims, are not public documents and shall not be open to public inspection. Property receiving the homeowners’ exemption shall be clearly identified on the assessment roll. The assessor shall maintain records which shall be open to public inspection to identify those claimants who have been g&ted the homeowners’ exemption. (b) The assessor may provide any appraisal data in his or her possession to the assessor of any county. The assessor shall disclose information, furnish abstracts, or permit access to all records in his or her office to law enforcement agencies, the county grand jury, the board of supervisors or their duly authorized agents, employees or representatives when conducting an investigation of the assessor’s office pursuant co Section 25303 of the Government Code, the Controller, employees of the Controller for property tax postponement purposes, probate referees. employees of the Franchise Tax Board for tax administration purposes only, staff appraisers of the Department of Savings and Loan, the Department of Transportation, the Department of General Services, the State Board of Equalization. the State Demeti of Social Se&es, and other duly authorized legislative or administrative bodies of the state pursuant to their authorization to examine the records. Whenever the aSSeSsordiscloses information, furnishes abstracts. or permits access to records in his or her office to staff appraisers of the Department of Savings and Loan. the Department of Transportation, or the Department of General Services pursuant to this section, the department shall reimburse the assessor for any costs incurred as a result thereof. (c) Upon the request of the tax collector, the assessor shall disclose and provide to the tax collector information used in the preparation of that portion of the unsecured roll for which the taxes thereon are delinquent. The tax collector shall certify to the assessor that he or she needs the information requested for the enforcement of the assessor’s tax lien in collecting those delinquent taxes. Information requested by the tax collector may include social security numbers, and the assessor shall recover from the tax collector his or her actual and reasonable costs for providing the information. The tax collector shall add the costs described in the preceding sentence to the assessee’s delinquent tax lien and collect those costs subject to subdivision (e) of Section 2922. (d) The assessor shall, upon the request of an assesseeor his or her designated representative. permit the assessee or representative to inspect or copy any market data in the assessor’s possession. For purposes of this subdivision, “market data” means any information in the assessor’s possession, whether or not required to be prepared or kept by him or her, relating to the sale of any property comparable to the property of the assessee, if the assessor bases his or her assessment of the assessee’s property, in whole or in part, on that comparable sale or sales. The assessor shall provide the names of the seller and buyer of each property on which the comparison is based. the location of that property, the date of the sale, and the consideration paid for the property, whether paid in money or otherwise. However, for purposes of providing market data, the assessor shall not display any document relating to the business affairs or property of another. (e) With respect to information, documents, and records, other than market data as defined in subdivision (d), the as-r shall, upon request of an assessesof property, or his or her designated representative, permit the assesseeor representative to inspect or copy all information, documents, and records, irxkding auditors’ mmatiot~s attd workpapers, whether or not required to be kept or prepared by the assessor, relating to the appraisal and the assessment of the assessee’s property, and any &ties and interest thereon. However, except as provided in Section 408.1. an assessee,or his or her designated representative, shall not be permitted to inspect or copy information and records that also relate to the property or business affairs of another, unless that disclosure is ordered by a competent court in a proceeding initiated by a taxpayer seeking to challenge the legality of the assessment of his or her property. v) (1) Pemission for the inspection or copying requestedpursuant to subdivision (d) or (e) shall be granted as soon as reasonably possilde to the assesseeor his or her designated representative. (2) rf the assessee,or his or her designuted representative, requests the assessor to make copies of any of the requestedreconis, the assesseeshail reimburse the assessorfor the reasonable costs ituxrred in reproducing and providing the copies.