FOIAs and GDPAs: How Requests for Information Can Help Practitioners Resolve Cases with the IRS or DOR

This is the sixth article in the Freedom Of Information Act Requests (FOIAs) and Government Data Practices Act Requests (GDPAs) series. This series is intended to provide taxpayers and practitioners with answers to the most commonly asked questions relating to the use of FOIAs and GDPAs. The use of FOIAs and GDPAs allow taxpayers and practitioners to recover information from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Minnesota Department of Revenue (MDR) and use that information to resolve their case.

The focus of this article is on the authority for and scope of submitting a GDPA to the MDR.

Minnesota Statutes Chapter 13 provides access to government data. It presumes government data is public and defines “government data” as “all data collected, created, received, maintained, or disseminated by any government entity regardless of its physical form, storage media, or condition of use.” Minn. Stat. Sec. 13.02, Subd. 7.

  1. The GDPA explains which records must be made available for public inspection and which records (or portions of records) should or may be withheld from disclosure. The law also provides administrative and judicial remedies for those denied access to records.
  2. GDPA applies to state agencies, statewide systems like the University of Minnesota and MnSCU, and political subdivisions.
  3. GDPA does not apply to some townships, non-governmental entities, and the Legislature.

The Commissioner of Revenue has promulgated rules, Minnesota Rules Chapter 1205, Data Practices, which apply to the Minnesota Department of Revenue (MDR) to implement the enforcement and administration of Minn. Stat. Chapter 13.

In terms of scope, the state classifies data into three categories:

  1. Public. All members of the public have access to this data. All government data collected, created, received, maintained or disseminated by a government entity shall be public unless classified by statute, or temporary classification pursuant to section 13.06, or federal law, as nonpublic or protected nonpublic, or with respect to data on individuals, as private or confidential.
  2. Private. Data subjects and individuals within an entity have access to this data. There is an additional rule for minors.
  3. Confidential. Data subject does not have access to this data.

The basics for preparing a GDPA will be the topic of our next blog article in this series.