Where are your tax dollars going?

You have a right to know how your money is spent by public entities

Photos by Melissa Diaz Hernandez/The Valley Chronicle
Page 1 of the letter sent by the attorney for the Hemet Unified School District denying the request. The newspaper received the requested documents.

■ Melissa Diaz Hernandez / Editor

In an effort to hold public entities accountable and encourage transparency, The Valley Chronicle has submitted California Public Records Act requests on behalf of the citizens of Hemet/San Jacinto for redacted W-2s and 1099s from multiple public entities. The requests acknowledge that addresses and social security numbers would be removed prior to release.
The purpose of the requests is to ensure that taxpayer money is spent properly without waste or fraud. It is your hard-earned tax money, after all.
The Hemet Unified School District supplied the requested documents after initially sending a letter denying the request. The newspaper is in the process of evaluating the documents. San Jacinto Unified School District is in receipt of the request and working to provide a response. The newspaper will do a follow-up on the district’s response to the request.
Both the city of Hemet and the city of San Jacinto have rejected the newspaper’s request. Why?
San Jacinto cited the following: “W-2s and 1099s are tax records and are confidential under federal law, state law and case law (26 USC § 6103; Cal. Rev. & Tax. Code § 19542) (Brown v. Sup. Ct. (1977) 71 Cal. App. 3d 141, 143) (Sav-On Drugs v. Sup. Ct. (1975) 15 Cal. 3d 1, 7) (Schnabel v. Superior Court (1993) 5 Cal.4th 704). As such, we cannot fill your request.”

The purpose of the requests is to ensure that taxpayer money is spent properly without waste or fraud.”

Hemet responded: “The information requested is exempt in its entirety from disclosure under California Government Code Section 6254(k) and Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. 6103). Section 6103 provides that tax returns and ‘all return information’ are confidential and shall only be disclosed as authorized in the Internal Revenue Code. ‘Return Information’ is defined to include a taxpayer’s identity, the nature, source or amount of his or her income, payments, receipts, deductions or any other data that is ‘furnished to’ the IRS ‘with respect to a return or with respect to the determination’ of tax liability of any ‘person.’ In this context, a ‘person’ is defined to include businesses and individuals, so the confidentiality provided for in Section 6103 applies to both W2s issued individuals and 1099s issued to individuals or businesses.”
The newspaper is responding to the denials and will continue to seek the information that we believe should be readily available to taxpayers. We will keep you, the citizens of Hemet and San Jacinto, updated on our progress as our quest for accountability and transparency continues.

Page 2 of the letter sent by the attorney for the Hemet Unified School District denying the request. The newspaper received the requested documents.

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