I was hurt in a car wreck in Sparta, TN. I lost six weeks from work but I am now back to work and think I will be able to work in the future. I hired a lawyer but we could not get the case settled. A lawsuit was filed. Now, the insurance company of the guy that hit me says they want my federal tax returns. I don’t think it is any of their business. Can they make me give them my tax returns?
Probably not, although the defense does have a right to have proof of your loss of income.
If our clients are uncomfortable about releasing their tax returns, we typically argue that tax returns are not discoverable in personal injury cases and instead will produce only the W-2 forms (which show the income earned from each employer). Our position is the tax return contains much more data than income information and that in a person injury case it is only data about income that has anything to do with the case.
The situation is a little different if we represent a person who owns his or her own business and he or she does not take a regular paycheck. Under those circumstances we have to turn over additional data to the defendant.
I must concede, however, that some judges will make us turn over our client’s entire tax return even though we object. If a judge orders us to do so we of course do it.