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Arkansas State Agency Prepared Taxpayer Documents Ordered Disclosed

Arkansas State corporation Ryan & Company AR, Inc. (Ryan) appealed a court ruling exempting the disclosure of specific taxpayer related legal opinions under the state Freedom of Information Act (Act). The ruling was reversed and the redacted disclosure was ordered.

Ryan requested various legal opinions prepared by the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) rendering opinions regarding the "propriety of taxation or exemption of a sale" to individual taxpayers. Ryan's request for "the appropriately redacted documents was denied by the DFA claiming exemption as protected government documents. The DFA further argued that under the Act any redaction would require creating a new record which it expressly prohibited and that the "custodian is not required to compile information or create a record in response to a request."

On appeal, the Supreme Court of Arkansas held that since the DFA maintains the records in it's files they fall within the Act's "otherwise kept" provisions and as such disclosure is not prohibited if redacted. The court ordered disclosure and further held that although the DFA is not obligated to compile or otherwise manage information sought, it is required under the Act "to redact any and all identifying information of any form." See: Ryan & Company AR, Inc. v. Weiss. 371 Ark. 43; 2007 Ark. LEXIS 499 (Ark. 2007).

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Related legal case

Ryan & Company AR, Inc. v. Weiss