MoFo New York Tax Insights - Volume 7, Issue 9

Morrison & Foerster LLP

Appellate Division Holds That NYS Tax Department Properly Withheld Documents Requested Under FOIL -

In a unanimous decision, the Appellate Division affirmed a decision of the Supreme Court, Albany County, which had upheld the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance’s partial denial of a taxpayer’s Freedom of Information Law (“FOIL”) requests. Matter of Moody’s Corp. and Subsidiaries v. New York State Dep’t of Taxation & Fin., et al., 2016 N.Y. Slip Op. 05612 (3d Dep’t, July 21, 2016). The Appellate Division also reversed the lower court’s decision to the extent that it had directed the Department to release certain additional documents.

Background. Moody’s Corp., a credit rating agency, had filed FOIL requests with the Department seeking the audit file relating to an Article 9-A audit of Moody's, and all records “relating to the sourcing of credit rating receipts for tax years 2004 to present." The Department released certain responsive records, including portions of the Moody’s audit file, but ultimately withheld several hundred pages as exempt from disclosure and released redacted versions of certain other documents. These withheld records included emails, draft agreements, a final closing agreement, draft correspondence, and correspondence from and regarding Moody’s and non-party taxpayers, as well as other relevant documents.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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