A decision regarding public record laws was held intact by the Kentucky Supreme Court on Thursday after the justices were unable to reach a majority on the case. The Court was split three-to-three with one judge, Justice Lawrence VanMeter, recurring himself from the vote because of his involvement in the case when he was on the Court of Appeals.
With this decision, Kentucky joins at least 35 other states that make administrative tax determinations public. The 2017 Court of Appeals decision on the case said public records laws require Kentucky Department of Revenue (DOR) to make administrative tax determinations and redacted versions of determinations which aren’t appealed public.
Plaintiff’s attorney Mark Sommer, a member with Frost Brown Todd, argued attorneys need access to administrative rulings in order to understand the reasoning of the Department of Revenue’s determinations. However, the DOR argued this would interfere with the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, citing this information shouldn’t be public as it contains personal tax information of people and their businesses. In the Court of Appeals ruling, the decision stated that redacting such information was sufficient, as is done in states such as Indiana.
“After six years of administrative and judicial litigation, transparency moves to the forefront in Kentucky tax administration,” Sommer said following the release of the Order on Thursday.