Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Requests for COR

FOIA Rights of Virginia Citizens and Members of the Media

  • You have the right to request to inspect or receive copies of public records, or both.
  • You have the right to request that any charges for the requested records be estimated in advance. 
  • If you believe that your FOIA rights have been violated, you may file a petition in district or circuit court to compel compliance with FOIA.  Alternatively, you may contact the FOIA Council for a nonbinding advisory opinion.

Requesting records from The Commissioner of Revenue

  • You may request records online, by U.S. Mail, by e-mail, by phone, by fax or in-person (please call 703-228-3033 to schedule an appointment).  FOIA does not require that your request be in writing, nor do you need to specifically state that you are requesting records under FOIA.
  • From a practical perspective, it will be helpful to both you and the person receiving your request to put your request in writing.  This allows you to create a record of your request.  It also gives us a clear statement of what records you are requesting, so that there is no misunderstanding over a verbal request.  However, we cannot refuse to respond to your FOIA request if you elect to not put it in writing.
  • Download the form(PDF, 127KB), complete it, then submit it in one of these ways:
    • Mail: FOIA Officer, 2100 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 200, Arlington, VA  22201
    • Fax: 703-228-7048
    • Email:
    • In-person: 2100 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 200, Arlington, VA  22201 (Please call 703-228-3033 to make an appointment.)
  • Your request must identify the records you are seeking with "reasonable specificity."  This is a common-sense standard.  It does not refer to or limit the volume or number of records that you are requesting; instead, it requires that you be specific enough so that we can identify and locate the records that you are seeking.
  • Your request must ask for existing records or documents.  FOIA gives you a right to inspect or copy records; it does not apply to a situation where you are asking general questions about the work of the Commissioner of Revenue, nor does it require the Commissioner’s office to create a record that does not exist.
  • You may choose to receive electronic records in any format used by this office in the regular course of business. For example, we do not utilize CDs or memory sticks to transfer data.  Another exception would be if the conversion of the records into the requested format would require excessive time.  For example, converting a handwritten or PDF record to an electronic format. Generally, records can be provided in EXCEL spreadsheet format, emailed images (PDF), faxed images or hard copies.  The Commissioner’s office does not maintain voice recordings.
  • If we have questions about your request, please cooperate with staff's efforts to clarify the type of records that you are seeking, or to attempt to reach a reasonable agreement about a response to a large request.  Making a FOIA request is not an adversarial process, but we may need to discuss your request with you to ensure that we understand what records you are seeking.
  • To request records other than by using the online form you may direct your request to William J. Burgess, the Commissioner of Revenue’s FOIA officer by telephone at 703-228-3033, by fax at 703-228-7048, or by email at
  • In addition, the Freedom of Information Advisory Council is available to answer questions you may have about FOIA.  The Council may be contacted by e-mail at, or by phone at (804) 225-3056 or [toll free] 1-866-448-4100.

What You Can Expect

  • We must normally respond to your request within five working days of receiving it.  "Day One" is considered the day after your request is received.  The five-day period does not include weekends, holidays, or days when the office is closed due to inclement weather or other emergency.
  • The reason behind your request for public records is irrelevant, and you do not have to state why you want the records before we respond to your request.  FOIA does, however, allow the Commissioner’s office to require you to provide your name and legal address.
  • FOIA requires that we make one of the following responses to your request within the five-day time period:
  1. We provide you with the records that you have requested in their entirety.
  2. We withhold all of the records that you have requested, because all of the records are subject to a specific statutory exemption.  If all of the records are being withheld, we must send you a response in writing.  That writing must identify the volume and subject matter of the records being withheld, and state the specific section of the Code of Virginia that allows us to withhold the records. Be aware that many records in the office of the Commissioner of Revenue contain confidential tax information and are protected by law from disclosure, except when the requestor is the taxpayer or the taxpayer’s lawful representative.
  3. We provide some of the records that you have requested, but withhold other records.  We cannot withhold an entire record if only a portion of it is subject to an exemption.  In that instance, we may redact the portion of the record that may be withheld, and must provide you with the remainder of the record.  We must provide you with a written response stating the specific section of the Code of Virginia that allows portions of the requested records to be withheld. Again, be aware that confidential tax information will be redacted from records containing such information if the requestor is other than the taxpayer or the taxpayer’s lawful representative.
  4. We inform you in writing that the requested records cannot be found or do not exist (we do not have the records you want).  However, if we know that another public body has the requested records, we must include contact information for the other public body in our response to you.
  5. If it is practically impossible for us to respond to your request within the five-day period, we must state this in writing, explaining the conditions that make the response impossible.  This will allow us seven additional working days to respond to your request, giving us a total of 12 working days to respond to your request.
  6. If you make a request for a very large number of records, and we feel that we cannot provide the records to you within 12 working days without disrupting our other organizational responsibilities, we may petition the court for additional time to respond to your request.  However, FOIA requires that we make a reasonable effort to reach an agreement with you concerning the production or the records before we go to court to ask for more time.


  • A public body may make reasonable charges not to exceed its actual cost incurred in accessing, duplicating, supplying, or searching for the requested records. No public body shall impose any extraneous, intermediary, or surplus fees or expenses to recoup the general costs associated with creating or maintaining records or transacting the general business of the public body. Any duplicating fee charged by a public body shall not exceed the actual cost of duplication. All charges for the supplying of requested records shall be estimated in advance at the request of the citizen as set forth in subsection F of § 2.2-3704 of the Code of Virginia.
  • You may have to pay for the records that you request.  FOIA allows us to charge for the actual costs of responding to FOIA requests.  This would include items like staff time spent searching for the requested records, copying costs, or any other costs directly related to supplying the requested records.  It cannot include general overhead costs.
  • If we estimate that it will cost more than $200 to respond to your request, we may require you to pay a deposit, not to exceed the amount of the estimate, before proceeding with your request.  The five days that we have to respond to your request does not include the time between when we ask for a deposit and when you respond.
  • You may request that we estimate in advance the charges for supplying the records that you have requested.  This will allow you to know about any costs upfront, or give you the opportunity to modify your request in an attempt to lower the estimated costs.
  • If you owe us money from a previous FOIA request that has remained unpaid for more than 30 days, we may require payment of the past-due bill before we will respond to your new FOIA request.


The Code of Virginia allows any public body to withhold certain records from public disclosure. The Commissioner of Revenue commonly withholds records subject to exemptions such as:

  • Confidential tax information contained in our records
  • Personnel records
  • Records subject to attorney-client privilege
  • Vendor proprietary information
  • Records relating to the negotiation and award of a contract, prior to a contract being awarded
  • Security matters

Complete list of exemptions

About The Freedom of Information Act

The Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) – located in § 2.2-3700 et seq. of the Code of Virginia – guarantees citizens of the Commonwealth and representatives of the media access to public records held by public bodies, public officials and public employees. The purpose of FOIA is to promote an increased awareness and transparency of government activities and afford residents an opportunity to witness the operations of government.

A public record is any writing or recording – regardless of whether it is a paper record, an electronic file, an audio or video recording or any other format – that is prepared, owned by or in the possession of a public body or its officers, employees or agents in the transaction of public business.

Contact Us

Arlington County Commissioner of Revenue

Attn: FOIA Officer

2100 Clarendon Blvd., Suite 200

Arlington, VA 22201

Phone: 703-228-3033

Fax: 703-228-7048