If liability has been established for a claim involving punitive damages, then a judge will allow financial disclosures so that punitive damages based on the liable party's net weatth can be awarded.
The liable party can be asked to provide P&L statements, loan applications, divorce disclosures (which are provided under oath) bank statements, real estate records, etc. Some of these are public records, so your lawyer should be able to verify this information by getting these directly from the sources.
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No, the tax returns should be fair game unless you can show some type of protectable interest that would warrant a protection order.
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