When firm client, William Hoke, a former audit manager for New Hampshire’s Department of Revenue Administration, launched a subscription-based website providing information about New Hampshire’s tax system, he was providing readers with news stories and guidance to navigate the state’s tax rules.
So why did the New Hampshire Office of the Attorney General threaten legal action if Hoke didn’t give DRA access to his website within two weeks? It seems that the DRA was concerned that the website was disclosing “department confidential proprietary information and/or confidential taxpayer information.” Hoke provided DRA with one month of access, but was not concerned because most information on the site was derived from “publicly available data and included no confidential taxpayer information.”
DRA reviewed hundreds of pages on the site, but determined that seven documents contained proprietary information and that Hoke was violating New Hampshire law. Since these violations carry criminal penalties, Hoke was naturally concerned.
Peter Guffin, chair of the firm's Intellectual Property and Technology Group, countered that “Hoke’s website acknowledges that the DRA does not publish how it selects taxpayers for audit and that the information on the site is the product of Hoke’s personal conclusions based on court filings and press reports.”
Read the complete article as published in State Tax Notes.
Used with permission. “Live Free and Be Censored: What’s New Hampshire Hiding?” was written by Cara Griffith and published in State Tax Notes, ©Tax Analysts 2014