It is unlawful for the department or any person having an administrative duty under this subchapter to make known in any manner whatever the business affairs, operations or information obtained by an investigation of records and equipment of any retailer or any other person visited or examined in the discharge of official duty, or the amount or source of income, profits, losses, expenditures, or any particular thereof, set forth or disclosed in any return, or to permit any return or copy thereof to be seen or examined by any person. This paragraph does not prohibit the department of revenue from publishing statistics classified so as not to disclose the identity of particular returns or reports and the items thereof. This paragraph does not prohibit employees or agents of the department of revenue from offering or submitting information obtained by investigation or any return or any schedule, exhibit or writing pertaining to a return or any copy of, or information derived from, any of those documents as evidence into the record of any contested matter involving the department in proceedings or litigation on state tax matters if that evidence has reasonable probative value. This paragraph does not prohibit employees or agents of the department of revenue from informing a buyer or seller who has filed a claim for a refund that a refund has been paid to a seller or buyer with respect to the same transaction.
Subject to pars. (c)
and to the rules of the department, any sales tax or use tax returns or any schedules, exhibits, writings or audit reports pertaining to the returns, on file with the department, shall be open to examination by any of the following persons or the contents thereof divulged or used as provided in the following cases and only to the extent therein authorized:
The secretary of revenue, or any officer, agent or employee of the department of revenue.
The attorney general and department of justice employees.
Members of the senate committee on organization or its authorized agents or the assembly committee on organization or its authorized agents provided the examination is approved by a majority vote of a quorum of its members and the tax return information is disclosed only in a meeting closed to the public. The committee may disclose tax return information to the senate or assembly or to other legislative committees if the information does not disclose the identity of particular returns or reports and the items of particular returns or reports. The department of revenue shall provide assistance to the committees or their authorized agents in order to identify returns that are considered necessary by them to accomplish the review and analysis of tax policy.
Public officers of the federal government or other state governments or the authorized agents of those officers, where necessary in the administration of the laws of the federal government or other state governments, to the extent that the federal government or other state governments accord similar rights of examination or information to officials of this state.
The person who filed or submitted the return, or to whom the return relates or by that person's authorized agent or attorney.
The person required to file reports on collection or taxes withheld from another.
Any person examining a return pursuant to a court order duly obtained upon a showing to the court that the information contained in the return is relevant to a pending court action or pursuant to a subpoena signed by a judge of a court of record ordering the department's custodian of returns to produce a return in open court in a court action pending before the judge.
Any person against whom the department asserts liability under this subchapter, including a successor, guarantor or surety.
Employees of this state, to the extent that the department deems the examination necessary for the employees to perform their duties under contracts or agreements between the department and any other department, division, bureau, board or commission of this state relating to the administration of tax laws.
The state auditor and the employees of the legislative audit bureau to the extent necessary for the bureau to carry out its duties under s. 13.94
The administrator of the lottery division in the department for the purpose of withholding of lottery winnings under s. 565.30 (5)
A licensing department or the supreme court, if the supreme court agrees, for the purpose of denial, nonrenewal, discontinuation and revocation of a license based on tax delinquency under s. 73.0301
The secretary of revenue and employees of that department for the purposes of preparing and maintaining the list of persons with unpaid tax obligations as described in s. 73.03 (62)
so that the list of such persons is available for public inspection.
For purposes of obtaining the outstanding liability secured by a tax warrant, any person, or authorized agent of any person, who provides satisfactory evidence to the department, as determined by the department, that the person has a material interest, or intends to obtain a material interest, in a property that is subject to a tax warrant filed by the department under s. 77.62 (1)
For purposes of determining whether a retailer is liable for any amount of tax under this subchapter and obtaining the outstanding liability of the retailer in order to comply with s. 77.52 (18)
, any person, or authorized agent of any person, who provides satisfactory evidence to the department, as determined by the department, that the person intends to purchase or has purchased the retailer's business or stock of goods, or that the retailer will quit the business and the person will be the successor or assignee of the retailer. For purposes of providing satisfactory evidence to the department under this subdivision, the person shall provide to the department written documentation, signed by the retailer, that acknowledges the person as a purchaser or potential purchaser, successor, or assignee.
Copies of sales tax or use tax returns, schedules, exhibits, writings or audit reports shall not be furnished to the persons listed under par. (b)
, except persons under par. (b) 5.
or under an agreement between the department and another agency of government.
The use of information obtained under par. (b)
is restricted to the discharge of duties imposed upon the persons by law or by the duties of their office or by order of a court as specified under par. (b) 6.
The department may charge for the reasonable cost of divulging information under this subsection.
District attorneys may examine tax information of persons on file with the department of revenue as follows:
Such tax information may be examined for use in preparation for any judicial proceeding or any investigation which may result in a judicial proceeding involving sales or use tax if:
The treatment of an item reflected in such tax information is or may be related to the resolution of an issue in the proceeding or investigation; or
The tax information relates or may relate to a transactional relationship between the taxpayer and a person who is or may be a party to the proceeding which affects or may affect the resolution of an issue in such proceeding or investigation.
When the department of revenue allows examination of tax information under subd. 1.
If the department has referred the case to a district attorney, the department may make disclosure on its own motion.
If a district attorney requests examination of tax information relating to a person, the request must be in writing, clearly identify the requester and the person to whom the information relates and explain the need for the information. The department may then allow the examination of tax information so requested and the information may be examined and used solely for the proceeding or investigation for which it was requested.
Such tax information may be examined for use in preparation for any administrative or judicial proceeding or an investigation which may result in such proceeding pertaining to the enforcement of a specifically designated state criminal statute not involving tax administration to which this state or a governmental subdivision thereof is a party. Such tax information may be used solely for the proceeding or investigation for which it is requested.
The department of revenue may allow an examination of tax information under subd. 3.
only if a district attorney petitions a court of record in this state for an order allowing the examination and the court issues an order after finding:
There is a reasonable cause to believe, based on information believed to be reliable, that a specific criminal act has been committed;
There is reason to believe that such tax information is probative evidence of a matter in issue related to the commission of such criminal act; and
The information sought to be examined cannot reasonably be obtained from any other source, unless it is determined that, notwithstanding the reasonable availability of the information from another source, the tax information constitutes the most probative evidence of a matter in issue relating to the commission of such criminal act.
If the department determines that examination of tax information ordered under subd. 4.
would identify a confidential informant or seriously impair a civil or criminal tax investigation, the department may deny access and shall certify the reason therefor to the court.
The department of revenue shall inform each requester of the amount paid or payable under s. 77.52
for any reporting period and reported on a return filed by any city, village, town, county, school district, special purpose district or technical college district; whether that amount was paid by the statutory due date; the amount of any tax, fees, penalties or interest assessed by the department; and the total amount due or assessed under s. 77.52
but unpaid by the filer, except that the department may not divulge tax return information that in the department's opinion violates the confidentiality of that information with respect to any person other than the units of government and districts specified in this paragraph. The department shall provide to the requester a written explanation if it fails to divulge information on grounds of confidentiality. The department shall collect from the person requesting the information a fee of $4 for each return.
Any person violating this subsection may be fined not less than $100 nor more than $500, or imprisoned not less than one month nor more than 6 months, or both.
See also ss. Tax 1.11
, Wis. adm. code.
In this subsection, “personally identifiable information" means any information that identifies a person.
A certified service provider may use personally identifiable information as necessary only for the administration of its system to perform a seller's sales and use tax functions and shall provide consumers clear and conspicuous notice of its practice regarding such information, including what information it collects, how it collects the information, how it uses the information, how long, if at all, it retains the information, and under what circumstances it discloses the information to states participating in the agreement, as defined in s. 77.65 (2) (a)
A certified service provider may collect, use, and retain personally identifiable information only to verify exemption claims, to document the correct assignment of taxing jurisdictions, to investigate fraud, and to ensure its system's reliability.
A certified service provider shall provide sufficient technical, physical, and administrative safeguards to protect personally identifiable information from unauthorized access and disclosure.
For purposes of this subchapter, the state shall provide to consumers public notice of the state's practices related to collecting, using, and retaining personally identifiable information.
The state shall not retain personally identifiable information obtained for purposes of administering this subchapter unless the state is otherwise required to retain the information by law or as provided under the agreement, as defined in s. 77.65 (2) (a)
For purposes of this subchapter, the state shall provide an individual reasonable access to that individual's personally identifiable information and the right to correct any inaccurately recorded information.
If any person, other than another state that is a signatory to the agreement, as defined in s. 77.65 (2) (a)
, or a person authorized under state law to access the information, requests access to an individual's personally identifiable information, the state shall make a reasonable and timely effort to notify the individual of the request.
No person, except the person who filed the return or claim, may inspect a return or claim, or any information derived from a return or claim, that is filed under this subchapter unless that person does so in performing the duties of his or her position. Violation of this paragraph by a state employee is grounds for dismissal.
If any person is charged with a violation of par. (a)
, the secretary of revenue shall notify each taxpayer whose return or claim was improperly inspected by that person.
Any person who is notified under par. (b)
may bring an action for damages in regard to the inspection.
Any person who violates par. (a)
shall upon conviction be fined not less than $100 nor more than $500 or imprisoned for not less than one month nor more than 6 months or both.
In any case in which a refund is authorized or prescribed in this subchapter, or in the rules of the department related to the administration hereof, no such refund shall be made if the total amount thereof is less than $2 unless specifically requested on the appropriate form designated by the department.
The department may by rule require the filing, submission, preparation or retention of such information returns, exemption and resale certificates and other forms, reports and data as it requires for the proper administration of this subchapter. Any person who fails or refuses to file, submit, prepare or retain such returns, certificates, forms, reports or data, at the time and place and in the manner required, is guilty of a misdemeanor for each such failure or refusal.
Any city, village or town clerk or other official whose duty it is to issue licenses or permits to engage in a business involving the sale at retail of tangible personal property or items, property, or goods under s. 77.52 (1) (b)
, or (d)
subject to tax under this subchapter, or the furnishing of services so subject to tax, shall, before issuing such license or permit, require proof that the person to whom such license or permit is to be issued is the holder of a seller's permit or use tax registration certificate, is registered to collect, report, and remit use tax under this subchapter, or has been informed by an employee of the department that the department will issue a seller's permit or use tax registration certificate to that person or register that person to collect, report, and remit use tax. In the case of a single-owner entity that is disregarded as a separate entity under ch. 71
, the requirement to hold a seller's permit is satisfied if the seller's permit is in the name of either the disregarded entity or its owner.
No natural person shall be excused from testifying or from producing any books, papers, records or memoranda in any investigation, or upon any hearing when ordered to do so by the secretary of revenue or the secretary's designee upon the ground that the testimony or evidence, documentary or otherwise, may tend to incriminate or subject the person to criminal penalty, but no such natural person so ordered shall be prosecuted or subjected to any criminal penalty for, or on account of such testimony or books, papers, records or memoranda which the person produces upon such investigation or hearing. No person so testifying shall be exempt from prosecution and punishment for perjury in so testifying.
No injunction shall issue to stay proceedings for assessment or collection of any taxes levied under this subchapter.
Documents and payments required or permitted under this subchapter that are mailed are timely furnished, filed or made if they are mailed in a properly addressed envelope with the postage duly prepaid, if the envelope is postmarked, or marked or recorded electronically as provided under section 7502
(f) (2) (c) of the Internal Revenue Code, before midnight of the due date and if the document or payment is received by the department, or at the destination that the department prescribes, within 5 days after the prescribed date. Documents and payments that are not mailed are timely if they are received on or before the due date by the department or at the destination that the department designates. For purposes of this subsection, “mailed" includes delivery by a delivery service designated under section 7502
(f) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Notwithstanding any provision of ss. 178.1141
, and 183.1041
, a business entity that converts to another business entity under s. 178.1141
, or 183.1041
shall be subject to the provisions under this subchapter applicable to liquidations, reorganizations, and business entity formations.
Any person who remits taxes and files returns under this subchapter may designate an agent, as defined in s. 77.524 (1) (ag)
, to remit such taxes and file such returns with the department in a manner prescribed by the department.
With regard to services subject to the tax under s. 77.52 (2)
or the lease, rental, or license of tangible personal property and property, items, and goods specified under s. 77.52 (1) (b)
, and (d)
, an increase in the tax rate applies to the first billing period beginning on or after the rate increase's effective date and a decrease in the tax rate applies to bills that are rendered on or after the rate decrease's effective date.
The department shall notify sellers with respect to any change in the rate of the taxes imposed under this subchapter at least 30 days prior to the change's effective date and any such change shall take effect on January 1, April 1, July 1, or October 1.
A person who fails to produce records or documents, as provided under s. 77.59 (2)
, that support amounts or other information required to be shown on a return required under s. 77.58
and fails to comply in good faith with a summons issued pursuant to s. 73.03 (9)
seeking those records and documents may be subject to any of the following penalties, as determined by the department, except that the department may not impose a penalty under this subsection if the person shows that under all facts and circumstances the person's response, or failure to respond, to the department's request was reasonable or justified by factors beyond the person's control:
The disallowance of deductions, credits, exemptions, or inclusions of additional taxable sales or additional taxable purchases to which the requested records relate.
A penalty for each violation of this subsection that is equal to the greater of $500 or 25 percent of the amount of the additional tax on any adjustment made by the department that results from the person's failure to produce the records.
The department shall promulgate rules to administer this subsection and the rules shall include a standard response time, a standard for noncompliance, and penalty waiver provisions.
See also s. Tax 11.90
, Wis. adm. code.
A single-owner entity that is disregarded as a separate entity under ch. 71
is disregarded as a separate entity for purposes of this subchapter.
A single-owner entity that is disregarded as a separate entity under ch. 71
on July 1, 2009, shall be treated under this subchapter as an entity separate from its owner for purposes of the sale, license, lease, or rental of and the storage, use, or other consumption of tangible personal property or items, property, or goods under s. 77.52 (1) (b)
, or (d)
purchased by the single-owner entity or its owner prior to July 1, 2009.
A single-owner entity that is disregarded as a separate entity under ch. 71
on July 1, 2009, shall be treated under this subchapter as an entity separate from its owner for purchases of building materials, if the materials are affixed and made a structural part of real estate, and the amount payable to the contractor is fixed without regard to the costs incurred in performing a written contract that was irrevocably entered into prior to July 1, 2009, or that resulted from the acceptance of a formal written bid accompanied by a bond or other performance guaranty that was irrevocably submitted before July 1, 2009.
The sale, license, lease, or rental of a product may be taxed only once under this subchapter regardless of whether such sale, license, lease, or rental is subject to taxation under more than one imposition provision under this subchapter.
History: 1971 c. 125
; 1975 c. 186
; 1977 c. 29
; 1979 c. 89
; 1981 c. 20
; 1983 a. 189
s. 329 (12)
; 1983 a. 405
; 1983 a. 544
s. 47 (1)
; 1985 a. 29
; 1987 a. 27
; 1989 a. 31
; 1991 a. 39
; 1993 a. 205
; 1995 a. 27
; 1997 a. 27
; 1999 a. 83
; 2001 a. 44
; 2005 a. 25
; 2007 a. 11
; 2009 a. 2
; 2011 a. 68
; 2015 a. 170
; 2015 a. 197
; 2015 a. 216
; 2019 a. 15
; 2021 a. 1
Since the immunity under s. 885.25 (2) or sub. (12) is merely coextensive with a defendant's rights against self-incrimination, which does not attach to the records of a corporation, a defendants' claim of immunity for delivering corporate records has no merit. State v. Alioto, 64 Wis. 2d 354
, 219 N.W.2d 585
Collection of delinquent sales and use taxes.
The department of revenue may exercise the powers vested in it by ss. 71.80 (12)
, 71.82 (2)
, 71.91 (1) (a)
in connection with collection of delinquent sales and use taxes including, without limitation because of enumeration, the power incorporated by reference in s. 71.91 (5) (j)
, and the power to:
Release real property from the lien of a warrant.
Approve installment payment agreements.
Compromise on the basis of ability to pay.
Compromise delinquent estimated assessments on the basis of fairness and equity.
See s. 73.03 (27)
for provision as to writing off uncollectible sales and use taxes.
The following persons may retain a portion of sales and use taxes collected on retail sales under this subchapter and subch. V
in an amount determined by the department and by contracts that the department enters into jointly with other states as a member state of the streamlined sales tax governing board pursuant to the agreement, as defined in s. 77.65 (2) (a)
A certified service provider.