July 10, 1973
THE HONORABLE FREDERIC LEE RUCK
County Attorney for Fairfax County
CITE: 73-74 412A
I have received your recent letter inquiring whether information
contained in the records of the County of Fairfax's Departments of
Assessments and Finance regarding personal property and license taxes
may be released to the Consumer Protection and Public Utilities
Commission of Fairfax County.
As you know, §58-46, Code of Virginia (1950), as amended,
provides in pertinent part: "Except in accordance with proper
judicial order or as otherwise provided by law, it shall be unlawful
for the Commissioner or any agent, clerk, commissioner of the
revenue, treasurer, or any other State or local tax or revenue
officer or employee to divulge any information acquired by him in
respect to the transactions, property, income or business of any
person, firm or corporation while in the performance of his public
duties . . . provided, however, that the Governor may at any time, by
written order, direct that any information herein referred to shall
be made public or be laid before any court; and, provided, that this
inhibition does not extend to any matters required by law to be
entered on any public assessment roll or book . . .. Nothing
contained herein shall be construed to prohibit the publication of
statistics so classified as to prevent the identification of
particular reports or returns and the items thereof . . .."
This office has previously ruled that the information contained in
personal property books is not subject to the secrecy requirements of
§58-46 and that the books should be open to public inspection.
Report of the Attorney General (1964-1965), p. 282. With respect to
license taxes, this office has opined that to make available a mere
list of licensees without any other information would not violate
58-46. Report of the Attorney General (1950-1951), p. 294 and
(1966-1967), p. 67.
I am unaware of any section of the Code of Virginia requiring
other information relating either to personal property or to license
taxes "to be entered on any public assessment roll or book."
Accordingly, I am of the opinion that no information other than that
contained in personal property books, or a mere list of licensees,
may be released except pursuant to a written order of the Governor or
in statistics "so classified as to prevent the identification of
particular reports or returns and the items thereof." See Report of
the Attorney General (1967-1968), p. 58.