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W.Va. high court issues FOIA ruling on tax data

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State and county tax officials must turn over computerized tax assessment data to the public or business owners, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The court overturned a January 2013 ruling in Kanawha County Circuit Court finding that computer-assisted mass appraisal files used by county assessors to help determine home values were exempt from disclosure under the state Freedom of Information Act. State and county tax officials argued that the data included sensitive information that might include whether a homeowner had a burglar alarm, whether a home was vacant because the homeowner was in a nursing home or other private information.

Roger Hurlbert, owner of Sage Information Services, originally went to court after the state Tax Commission refused to turn over the computerized data. State tax officials argued they were not the custodians of the records under the Freedom of Information Act…

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