Confidentiality provisions. 71.78(1)
Except as provided in subs. (4)
, no person may divulge or circulate or offer to obtain, divulge or circulate any information derived from an income, franchise, withholding, fiduciary, partnership, limited liability company or gift tax return or tax credit claim, including information which may be furnished by the department of revenue as provided in this section. This subsection does not prohibit publication by any newspaper of information lawfully derived from such returns or claims for purposes of argument or prohibit any public speaker from referring to such information in any address. This subsection does not prohibit the department of revenue from publishing statistics classified so as not to disclose the identity of particular returns, or claims or reports and the items thereof. This subsection does not prohibit employes or agents of the department of revenue from offering or submitting any return, including joint returns of a spouse or former spouse, separate returns of a spouse, individual returns of a spouse or former spouse and combined individual income tax returns, or from offering or submitting any claim, schedule, exhibit, writing or audit report or a copy of, and any information derived from, any of those documents as evidence into the record of any contested matter involving the department in proceedings or litigation on state tax matters if, in the department's judgment, that evidence has reasonable probative value.
(2) Disclosure of net tax.
The department shall make available upon suitable forms prepared by the department information setting forth the net Wisconsin income tax, Wisconsin franchise tax or Wisconsin gift tax reported as paid or payable in the returns filed by any individual or corporation for any individual year upon request. Before the request is granted, the person desiring to obtain the information shall prove his or her identity and shall be required to sign a statement setting forth the person's address and reason for making the request and indicating that the person understands the provisions of this section with respect to the divulgement, publication or dissemination of information obtained from returns as provided in sub. (1)
. The use of a fictitious name is a violation of this section. Within 24 hours after any information from any such tax return has been so obtained, the department shall mail to the person from whose return the information has been obtained a notification which shall give the name and address of the person obtaining the information and the reason assigned for requesting the information. The department shall collect from the person requesting the information a fee of $4 for each return.
(3) Disclosure limitation.
The information described in sub. (2)
shall not be made available to any nonresident or to any resident who is making the request for such information for the use or benefit, directly or indirectly, of a nonresident person or firm or a foreign corporation except to the extent that similar information in the state of residence of such person or firm or the state of incorporation of such foreign corporation is made available to residents of Wisconsin or Wisconsin corporations. As part of the statement required by sub. (2)
, the department shall require any person desiring to obtain such information to declare whether the person is a nonresident of the state and whether the information is desired for the use or benefit of a nonresident person or firm or a foreign corporation. No copy of any return shall be supplied to any person except as permitted by sub. (4)
(4) Persons qualified to examine returns for specified purposes.
Subject to subs. (5)
and to rules of the department, any returns or claims specified under sub. (1)
or any schedules, exhibits, writings or audit reports pertaining to the returns or claims on file with the department shall be open to examination by only the following persons and the contents thereof may be divulged or used only as follows:
The secretary of revenue or any officer, agent or employe of the department.
The attorney general and department of justice employes.
Members of any legislative committee on organization or its authorized agents provided the examination is approved by a majority vote of a quorum of its members and the tax return or claim information is disclosed only in a meeting closed to the public. The committee may disclose tax return or claim information to the senate or assembly or to other legislative committees if the information does not disclose the identity of particular returns, claims or reports and the items thereof. The department of revenue shall provide assistance to the committees or their authorized agents in order to identify returns and claims deemed necessary by them to accomplish the review and analysis of tax policy.
Public officers of the federal government or other state governments or the authorized agents of such officers, where necessary in the administration of the tax laws of such governments, to the extent that such government accords similar rights of examination or information to officials of this state.
The person who filed or submitted the return or claim, or to whom the return or claim relates or by the person's authorized agent or attorney.
Any person examining a return or claim pursuant to a court order duly obtained upon a showing to the court that the information contained in the return or claim is relevant to a pending court action or pursuant to a subpoena signed by a judge of a court of record ordering the department's custodian of returns or claims to produce a return or claim in open court in a court action pending before the judge.
Employes of this state, to the extent that the department of revenue deems the examination necessary for the employes to perform their duties under contracts or agreements between the department and any other department, division, bureau, board or commission of this state relating to the administration of tax laws or child and spousal support enforcement under s. 49.22
A member of the board of arbitration established under s. 71.10 (7)
or a consultant under joint contract with the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin for the purpose of determining the reciprocity loss to which either state is entitled.
The office of the commissioner of insurance with respect to information compiled under s. 71.80 (13)
Employes of the legislative fiscal bureau to the extent that the department of revenue deems the examination necessary for those employes to perform their duties under contracts or agreements between the department and the bureau relating to the review and analysis of tax policy and the analysis of state revenue collections.
The spouse or former spouse of the person who filed the return or claim if the spouse or former spouse may be liable, or the property of the spouse or former spouse is subject to collection, for the delinquency, or the department has issued an assessment or denial of a claim to the spouse or former spouse regarding the return or claim.
The administrator of the lottery division in the department for the purpose of withholding lottery winnings under s. 565.30 (5)
The secretary of commerce and employes of that department to the extent necessary to administer the development zone program under subch. VI of ch. 560
The department of regulation and licensing for the purpose of certifying under s. 440.08
whether an applicant for renewal of a credential is liable for delinquent taxes.
(4m) Disclosure of certain dates to spouses and former spouses.
The department may disclose to the spouse or former spouse of the person who filed a return or claim specified under sub. (1)
whether an extension for filing the return or claim was obtained, the extended due date for filing the return or claim and the date on which the return or claim was filed with the department.
(5) Agreement with department.
Copies of returns and claims specified in sub. (1)
and related schedules, exhibits, writings or audit reports shall not be furnished to the persons listed under sub. (4)
, except persons under sub. (4) (e)
or under an agreement between the department of revenue and another agency of government.
(6) Restriction on use of information.
The use of information obtained under sub. (4)
is restricted to the discharge of duties imposed upon the persons by law or by the duties of their office or by order of a court as provided under sub. (4) (f)
(7) Charge for costs.
The department of revenue may charge for the reasonable cost of divulging information under this section.
(8) District attorneys.
District attorneys may examine tax and claim information of persons on file with the department of revenue as follows:
Such information may be examined for use in preparation for any judicial proceeding or any investigation which may result in a judicial proceeding involving any of the taxes or tax credits specified in sub. (1)
The taxpayer is or may be a party to such proceeding;
The treatment of an item reflected in such information is or may be related to the resolution of an issue in the proceeding or investigation; or
The information relates or may relate to a transactional relationship between the taxpayer or credit claimant and a person who is or may be a party to the proceeding which affects or may affect the resolution of an issue in such proceeding or investigation.
When the department of revenue allows examination of information under par. (a)
If the department has referred the case to a district attorney, the department may make disclosure on its own motion.
If a district attorney requests examination of tax or tax credit information relating to a person, the request must be in writing, clearly identify the requester and the person to whom the information relates and explain the need for the information. The department may then allow the examination of information so requested and the information may be examined and used solely for the proceeding or investigation for which it was requested.
Such information may be examined for use in preparation for any administrative or judicial proceeding or an investigation which may result in such proceeding pertaining to the enforcement of a specifically designated state criminal statute not involving tax administration to which this state or a governmental subdivision thereof is a party. Such information may be used solely for the proceeding or investigation for which it is requested.
The department of revenue may allow an examination of information under par. (c)
only if a district attorney petitions a court of record in this state for an order allowing the examination and the court issues an order after finding:
There is reasonable cause to believe, based on information believed to be reliable, that a specific criminal act has been committed;
There is reason to believe that such information is probative evidence of a matter in issue related to the commission of the criminal act; and
The information sought to be examined cannot reasonably be obtained from any other source, unless it is determined that, notwithstanding the reasonable availability of the information from another source, the information constitutes the most probative evidence of a matter in issue relating to the commission of such criminal act.
If the department determines that examination of information ordered under par. (d)
would identify a confidential informant or seriously impair a civil or criminal tax investigation, the department may deny access and shall certify the reason therefor to the court.
(9) Disclosure of debtor address.
The department of revenue may supply the address of a debtor to an agency certifying a debt of that debtor under s. 71.93
or to a municipality or county certifying a debt of a debtor under s. 71.935
(10) Divulging information to requester.
The department of revenue shall inform each requester of the total amount of taxes withheld under subch. X
during any reporting period and reported on a return filed by any city, village, town, county, school district, special purpose district or technical college district; whether that amount was paid by the statutory due date; the amount of any tax, fees, penalties or interest assessed by the department; and the total amount due or assessed under subch. X
but unpaid by the filer, except that the department may not divulge tax return information that in the department's opinion violates the confidentiality of that information with respect to any person other than the units of government and districts specified in this subsection. The department shall provide to the requester a written explanation if it fails to divulge information on grounds of confidentiality. The department shall collect from the person requesting the information a fee of $4 for each return.
NOTE: 1991 Wis. Act 301
, which affected this section, contains extensive legislative council notes.
General administrative provisions. 71.80(1)
Department duties and powers. 71.80(1)(a)(a)
The department of revenue shall assess incomes as provided in this chapter and in performance of such duty the department shall possess all powers now or hereafter granted by law to the department in the assessment of personal property and also the power to estimate incomes.
In any case of 2 or more organizations, trades or businesses (whether or not incorporated, whether or not organized in the United States and whether or not affiliated) owned or controlled directly or indirectly by the same interests, the secretary or the secretary's delegate may distribute, apportion or allocate gross income, deductions, credits or allowances between or among such organizations, trades or businesses, if the secretary determines that such distribution, apportionment or allocation is necessary in order to prevent evasion of taxes or clearly to reflect the income of any of such organizations, trades or businesses.
The department of revenue may make such regulations as it shall deem necessary in order to carry out this chapter.
The department of revenue may employ such clerks and specialists as are necessary to carry into effective operation this chapter. Salaries and compensations of such clerks and specialists shall be charged to the proper appropriation for the department of revenue.
Representatives of the department of revenue directed by it to accept payment of income or franchise taxes shall file bonds with the state treasurer in such amount and with such sureties as the state treasurer shall direct and approve. In collecting income or franchise taxes as provided in this chapter, the department of revenue shall be deemed to act as agents of the state, counties and towns, cities or villages entitled to receive the taxes collected.
(2) Notice to taxpayer by department.
The department of revenue shall notify each taxpayer by mail of the amount of income or franchise taxes assessed against the taxpayer and of the date when the taxes become delinquent.
(3) Crediting of overpayments on individual or separate returns.
In the case of any overpayment, refundable credit or refund on an individual or separate return, the department of revenue, within the applicable period of limitations, may credit the amount of overpayment, refundable credit or refund including any interest allowed, against any liability in respect to any tax collected by the department, a debt under s. 71.93
or a certification under s. 49.855
on the part of the person who made the overpayment or received the refundable credit or the refund and shall refund any balance to the person. The department shall presume that the overpayment, refundable credit or refund is nonmarital property of the filer. Within 2 years after the crediting, the spouse or former spouse of the person filing the return may file a claim for a refund of amounts credited by the department if the spouse or former spouse shows by clear and convincing evidence that all or part of the state tax overpayment, refundable credit or refund was nonmarital property of the nonobligated spouse.
(3m) Crediting of overpayments on joint returns.
For married persons, unless within 20 days after the date of the notice under par. (c)
the nonobligated spouse shows by clear and convincing evidence that the overpayment, refundable credit or refund is the nonmarital property of the nonobligated spouse, notwithstanding s. 766.55 (2) (d)
, the department of revenue may credit overpayments, refundable credits and refunds, including any interest allowed, resulting from joint returns under this chapter as follows:
Against any liability of either spouse or both spouses in respect to an amount owed the department, a certification under s. 49.855
that is subject to s. 766.55 (2) (b)
or a debt under s. 71.93
that is subject to s. 766.55 (2) (b)
and that was incurred during marriage by a spouse after December 31, 1985, or after both spouses are domiciled in this state, whichever is later, except as provided in s. 71.10 (6) (a)
Against the liability of a spouse in the proportion that the Wisconsin adjusted gross income which would have been the property of the spouse but for the marriage has to the adjusted gross income of both spouses as follows:
In respect to an amount owed the department that was incurred before January 1, 1986, or before marriage, whichever is later.
If the department of revenue determines that a spouse is otherwise entitled to a state tax refund or homestead or farmland credit, it shall notify the spouses under s. 71.74 (11)
that the state intends to reduce any state tax refund or a refundable credit due the spouses by the amount credited against any liability under par. (a)
If a spouse does not receive notice under par. (c)
and if the department of revenue incorrectly credits the state tax overpayment, refund or a refundable credit of a spouse or spouses against a liability under par. (a)
or both, a claim for refund of the incorrectly credited amount may be filed under s. 71.75 (5)
within 2 years after the date of the offset that was the subject of the notice under par. (c)
Unless specifically provided in this subchapter, the penalties under subch. XIII
apply for failure to comply with this subchapter unless the context requires otherwise.
(5) Penalties not deductible.
No penalty imposed by this chapter, or by subch. III of ch. 77
may be deducted from gross income in arriving at net income taxable under this chapter.
(6) Prosecutions by attorney general.
The attorney general is authorized, upon the request of the secretary of revenue, to represent the state or to assist the district attorney in the prosecution of any case arising under s. 71.83 (2) (a) 1.
and (b) 1.
(7) Publication of notices in administrative register.
The department of revenue shall annually publish notice of the standard deduction amounts and the brackets for the individual income tax in the administrative register.
(8) Receipt for payment of taxes.
The department of revenue shall accept payments of income or franchise taxes in accordance with this chapter, and upon request shall give a printed or written receipt therefor.
(9) Records may be required of taxpayer.
Whenever the department deems it necessary that a person subject to an income or franchise tax should keep records to show whether or not the person is liable to tax, the department may serve notice upon the person and require such records to be kept as will include the entire net income of the person and will enable the department to compute the taxable income. The department may require any person who keeps records in machine-readable form for federal income tax purposes to keep those records in the same form for purposes of the taxes under this chapter.
If any person, including an officer of a corporation, required by law to file a return fails to file the return within 60 days after the time required and refuses to file the return within 30 days after a request by the department to do so, the circuit court, upon petition by the department, shall issue a court order requiring that person to file a return. Any person upon whom a court order has been served shall file a return within 20 days after the service of the court order. The petition shall be heard and determined on the return day or on a later date that the court fixes, having regard for the speediest possible determination of the case consistent with the rights of the parties.
The department shall file a petition for a court order in a circuit court for the county in which the respondent in the action resides.
Filing a return after the time prescribed by law shall not relieve any person, including an officer of a corporation, from any penalties whether or not the department filed a petition for a court order under this subsection.
(11) Return presumed correct.
The department shall presume the incomes reported on the current return to be correct for the purpose of preparing initial assessments.
(12) Department deemed lawful attorney for nonresident. 71.80(12)(a)(a)
The transaction of business or the performance of personal services in this state or the derivation of income from property the income from which has a taxable situs in this state by any nonresident person, except where the nonresident is a foreign corporation that has been licensed pursuant to ch. 180
, shall be deemed an irrevocable appointment by such person, binding upon that person, that person's executor, administrator or personal representative, of the department of financial institutions to be that person's lawful attorney upon whom may be served any notice, order, pleading or process (including without limitation by enumeration any notice of assessment, denial of application for abatement or denial of claim for refund) by any administrative agency or in any proceeding by or before any administrative agency, or in any proceeding or action in any court, to enforce or effect full compliance with or involving the provisions of this chapter. The transaction of business, the performance of personal services or derivation of income from such property in this state shall be a signification of that person's agreement that any such notice, order, pleading or process which is so served shall be of the same legal force and validity as if served on that person personally, or upon that person's executor, administrator or personal representative.
The transaction of business in this state or the derivation of income which has a situs in this state under the provisions of this chapter by any person while a resident of this state shall be deemed an irrevocable appointment by such person, binding upon that person, that person's executor, administrator or personal representative, effective upon such person becoming a nonresident of this state, of the department of financial institutions to be that person's true and lawful attorney upon whom may be served any notice, order, pleading or process (including without limitation by enumeration any notice of assessment, denial of application for abatement or denial of claim for refund) by any administrative agency or in any proceeding by or before an administrative agency, or in any proceeding or action in any court, to enforce or effect full compliance with or involving the provisions of this chapter. And the transaction of such business or the derivation of such income shall be a signification of that person's agreement that any such notice, order, pleading or process which is so served shall be of the same legal force and validity as if served on that person personally, or upon that person's executor, administrator or personal representative.
Service under par. (a)
shall be made by serving a copy upon the department of financial institutions or by filing such copy with the department of financial institutions, and such service shall be sufficient service upon such person, or that person's executor, administrator or personal representative if notice of such service and a copy of the notice, order, pleading or process are within 10 days thereafter sent by mail by the state department, officer or agency making such service to such person, or that person's executor, administrator or personal representative, at that person's last-known address, and that an affidavit of compliance herewith is filed with the department of financial institutions. The department of financial institutions shall keep a record of all such notices, orders, pleadings, processes and affidavits and shall note in such record the day and hour of service upon the department.
The department shall compile and maintain a current list of names and addresses of persons who indicate they are self-insurers as required by s. 71.65 (4)
. The list shall be furnished to the office of the commissioner of insurance on request.
The fact that an individual's name is signed to a return, statement or other document shall be prima facie evidence for all purposes that the return, statement or other document was actually signed by that person.
In this subsection, "employer" means the resident person or firm which engages the services of an entertainer, as defined in s. 71.01 (2)
, or an entertainment corporation or, in the absence of that person or firm, the resident person last having receipt, custody or control of the proceeds of the entertainment event.
All entertainers, except entertainers who work for an entertainment corporation, and entertainment corporations not otherwise employed or regularly engaged in business in this state shall file a surety bond with the department of revenue at least 7 days before a performance. That bond shall be payable to the department to guarantee payment of income, franchise, sales and use taxes, income taxes withheld under subch. X
, penalties and interest. The amount of the bond shall be 6% of either the total contract price on all contracts that exceed $3,200 or, if the total contract price is not readily determinable and the department's estimate of the total remuneration to be received by the entertainer or entertainment corporation exceeds $3,200, 6% of the department's estimate. Amounts previously earned in this state by an entertainer or entertainment corporation during the same calendar year for which no bond or cash deposit has been filed under this paragraph or for which no amounts have been withheld under s. 71.64 (5)
shall be added together to determine the total contract price. The department shall approve the form and content of the bond. The bond shall remain in force until the liability under the bond is released by the department.
In place of the bond under par. (b)
and with the department's approval, an entertainer or entertainment corporation may deposit with the department money equal to the face value of the bond required under par. (b)
. The department shall retain the money until it determines the depositor's liability for state income, franchise, sales and use taxes and income tax withheld under subch. X
. If the deposit exceeds the liability, the department shall refund the difference to the depositor without interest.
If the department concludes that a bond or money deposit is not necessary to protect the revenues of the state, it may waive the requirements of pars. (b)
Each person who is an employer of an entertainer or entertainment corporation, as defined in s. 71.63 (3)
, shall, before paying for those services, require proof that the bond required by par. (b)
or the money deposit required by par. (c)
has been provided or that the department has waived those requirements. If proof is not provided, the person shall withhold and immediately transmit to the department from that person's payment the amount for which a bond should have been provided under par. (b)
. Failure to withhold or transmit the amount required under this paragraph or under s. 71.64 (5)
shall make the person required to withhold it personally liable for the amount required under this paragraph.
An employer of an entertainer or entertainment corporation under s. 71.63 (3) (b)
who is required to withhold moneys under par. (e)
or s. 71.64 (5)
and who has no direct knowledge of the total contract price to be paid an entertainer or entertainment corporation is not liable under par. (e)
if the employer withholds moneys based upon a signed statement provided by the entertainer, the entertainment corporation or the promoter attesting to the amount of the total contract price. The employer shall deliver the signed statement to the department within 30 days after the date of the performance. Statements under this paragraph are subject to s. 71.83 (2) (b) 1.
(16) Surety bond; nonresident contractor. 71.80(16)(a)(a)
All nonresident persons, whether incorporated or not, engaging in construction contracting in this state as contractor or subcontractor and not otherwise regularly engaged in business in this state, shall file a surety bond with the department, payable to the department of revenue, to guarantee the payment of income or franchise taxes, required unemployment compensation contributions, sales and use taxes and income taxes withheld from wages of employes, together with any penalties and interest thereon. The department shall approve the form and contents of such bond. The amount of the bond shall be 3% of the contract or subcontract price on all contracts of $50,000 or more or 3% of contractor's or subcontractor's estimated cost-and-profit under a cost-plus contract of $50,000 or more. When the aggregate of 2 or more contracts in one calendar year is $50,000 or more the amount of the bond or bonds shall be 3% of the aggregate amount of such contracts. Such surety bond must be filed within 60 days after construction is begun in this state by any such contractor or subcontractor on any contract the price of which is $50,000 or more (or the estimated cost-and-profit of which is $50,000 or more), or within 60 days after construction is begun in this state on any contract for less than $50,000, when the amount of such contract, when aggregated with any other contracts, construction on which was begun in this state in the same calendar year, equals or exceeds $50,000. If the department concludes that no bond is necessary to protect the tax revenues of the state, including contributions under ch. 108
, the requirements under this subsection may be waived by the secretary of revenue or the secretary's designated departmental representative. The bond shall remain in force until the liability thereunder is released by the secretary or the secretary's designated departmental representative.
A construction contractor required to file a surety bond under par. (a)
may, in lieu of such requirement, but subject to approval by the department, deposit with the state treasurer an amount of cash equal to the face of the bond that would otherwise be required. If an offer to deposit is made the department shall issue a certificate to the state treasurer authorizing said treasurer to accept payment of such moneys and to give his or her receipt therefor. A copy of such certificate shall be mailed to the contractor who shall, within the time fixed by the department, pay such amount to said treasurer. A copy of the receipt of the state treasurer shall be filed with the department. Upon final determination by the department of such contractor's liability for state income or franchise taxes, required unemployment compensation contributions, sales and use taxes and income taxes withheld from wages of employes, interest and penalties, by reason of such contract or contracts, the department shall certify to the state treasurer the amount of taxes, penalties and interest as finally determined, shall instruct the treasurer as to the proper distribution of such amount, and shall state the amount, if any, to be refunded to such contractor. The state treasurer shall make the payments directed by such certificate within 30 days after receipt thereof. Amounts refunded to the contractor shall be without interest.