437. Returns to be secret. 1. Except in accordance with proper judicial order or as in this section or otherwise provided by law, it shall be unlawful for the tax commission, any tax commissioner, any officer or employee of the department of taxation and finance, or any officer or person who, pursuant to this section, is permitted to inspect any return or report or to whom a copy, an abstract or a portion of any return or report is furnished, or to whom any information contained in any return or report is furnished, or any person engaged or retained by such department on an independent contract basis, or any person who in any manner may acquire knowledge of the contents of a return or report filed pursuant to this article to divulge or make known in any manner the contents or any other information relating to the business of a distributor, owner or other person contained in any return or report required under this article. The officers charged with the custody of such returns or reports shall not be required to produce any of them or evidence of anything contained in them in any action or proceeding in any court, except on behalf of the state, the state liquor authority, any county alcoholic beverage control board, the New York city alcoholic beverage control board or the tax commission in an action or proceeding under the provisions of this chapter or chapter three-b of the consolidated laws, or on behalf of the state or the tax commission in any other action or proceeding involving the collection of a tax due under this chapter to which the state or the tax commission is a party or a claimant or on behalf of any party to any action or proceeding under the provisions of this article or chapter three-b of the consolidated laws, when the returns or the reports or the facts shown thereby are directly involved in such action or proceeding, or in an action or proceeding relating to the regulation or taxation of alcoholic beverages on behalf of officers to whom information shall have been supplied as provided in subdivision two of this section, in any of which events the court may require the production of, and may admit in evidence so much of said returns or reports or of the facts shown thereby as are pertinent to the action or proceeding and no more. The tax commission may, nevertheless, publish a copy or a summary of any decision rendered after the formal hearing provided for in section four hundred thirty of this chapter. Nothing herein shall be construed to prohibit the tax commission, in its discretion, from allowing the inspection or delivery of a certified copy of any return or report filed under this article or of any information contained in any such return or report by or to a duly authorized officer or employee of the state liquor authority or of the New York city alcoholic beverage control board or of any county alcoholic beverage control board; or by or to the attorney-general or other legal representatives of the state when an action shall have been recommended or commenced pursuant to this chapter or chapter three-b of the consolidated laws in which such returns or reports or the facts shown thereby are directly involved; or the inspection of the returns or reports required under this article by the comptroller or duly designated officer or employee of the state department of audit and control, for purposes of the audit of a refund of any tax paid by a distributor or other person under this article; nor to prohibit the delivery to a distributor, owner or other person, or a duly authorized representative of such distributor, owner or other person of a certified copy of any return or report filed by such distributor, owner or other person pursuant to this article, nor to prohibit the publication of statistics so classified as to prevent the identification of particular returns or reports and the items thereof. Returns and reports shall be preserved for three years and thereafter until the tax commission orders them to be destroyed.
2. The tax commission, in its discretion and pursuant to such rules and regulations as it may adopt, may permit the commissioner of internal revenue of the United States, or the appropriate officers of any other state which regulates or taxes alcoholic beverages, or the duly authorized representatives of such commissioner or of any such officers, to inspect returns or reports made pursuant to this article, or may furnish to such commissioner or other officers, or duly authorized representatives, a copy of any such return or report or an abstract of the information therein contained, or any portion thereof, or may supply such commissioner or any such officers or such representatives with information relating to the business of a distributor, owner or other person making returns or reports hereunder. The tax commission may refuse to supply information pursuant to this subdivision to the commissioner of internal revenue of the United States or to the officers of any other state if the statutes of the United States, or of the state represented by such officers, do not grant substantially similar privileges to the tax commission of this state, but such refusal shall not be mandatory. Information shall not be supplied to the commissioner of internal revenue of the United States or the appropriate officers of any other state which regulates or taxes alcoholic beverages, or the duly authorized representatives of such commissioner or of any of such officers, unless such commissioner, officer or other representatives shall agree not to divulge or make known in any manner the information so supplied, but such officers may transmit such information to their employees or legal representatives when necessary, who in turn shall be subject to the same restrictions as those hereby imposed upon such commissioner, officer or other representatives.
3. (a) Any officer or employee of the state who willfully violates the provisions of subdivision one or two of this section shall be dismissed from office and be incapable of holding any public office in this state for a period of five years thereafter.
(b) Cross-reference: For criminal penalties, see article thirty-seven of this chapter.
4. Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision one of this section, the tax commission, in its discretion, may require or permit any or all persons, distributors or owners liable for any tax imposed by this article to make payment of any tax, penalty or interest to banks, banking houses or trust companies designated by the tax commission and to file returns and reports with such banks, banking houses or trust companies as agents of the tax commission, in lieu of making any such payment directly to the tax commission. However, the tax commission shall designate only such banks, banking houses or trust companies as are or shall be designated by the comptroller as depositories pursuant to section four hundred thirty-five.
Last modified: February 3, 2019