Journal of Property Tax Assessment & Administration


This article will consider the issue of privacy in assessment records from several viewpoints. Although a comprehensive survey of information privacy law is well beyond the scope of the present inquiry, some general background on privacy law will be described. General principles of open access to government records, and in particular tax assessment records, under state freedom of information acts and other statutes will be reviewed in light of privacy concerns and the increase in such concerns resulting from advances in technology. Case law from several states on access to assessment records for various purposes will be reviewed, with a focus on the tension between enforcing uniformity and privacy rights. Finally, some brief consideration will be given to issues raised by the bulk sale of assess­ment records to information brokers or other commercial users. In conclusion, some suggestions will be made regarding balancing taxpayers’ rights to disclosure of assessment records, especially for purposes of assessment appeals based on uniformity, against the privacy rights of the subjects of the records that would be disclosed.

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Freedom of Information, Privacy, Right of, Public records, Legal research guides/aids


This article is based on a presentation given at the International Association of Assessing Officers’ annual Legal Seminar held in San Francisco, California, from November 30 to December 1, 2006. Includes cases denying disclosure and cases permitting disclosure.