February 5, 2013
The staff of the Committee on Open Government is authorized to issue advisory opinions. The ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the facts presented in your correspondence.
This is in response to your request for an advisory opinion regarding application of the Freedom of Information Law to records requested from the Office of the State Comptroller. Specifically, you made a request for copies of W-2 forms pertaining to a certain former state employee for the past ten years. You were provided with the employee’s Wages, tips and other compensation (reported in Box 1 of the W-2 Form), and later, upon request, the employee’s Social Security wages (Box 3). On appeal, the Office denied your request for the employee’s Medicare wages and tips (Box 5), on the ground that disclosure would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy and pursuant to advice offered by this office.
After review of the federal government’s instructions for completion of the W-2 form, it is our understanding that an employee’s gross wages are reported in Box 1.
This will confirm our opinion, based on the analysis provided in FOIL-AO-9857 and, FOIL-AO-18695, that denial of access to an employee’s Medicare wages and tips (Box 5) is appropriate, as disclosure would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.
We hope that this is helpful.
Camille S. Jobin-Davis