Paul L. Caron

Monday, September 30, 2013

TIGTA: IRS Violated Taxpayer's Rights in 16% of FOIA Requests

TIGTA The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration today released Fiscal Year 2013 Statutory Review of Compliance With the Freedom of Information Act (2013-30-109):

The IRS must ensure that the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Privacy Act of 1974 (Privacy Act), and Internal Revenue Code (I.R.C.) Section 6103 are followed. Errors can violate taxpayer rights and result in improper disclosures of tax information.

TIGTA is required to conduct periodic audits to determine if the IRS properly denied written requests for tax account information. ...  The overall objective of this review was to determine whether the IRS improperly withheld information requested in writing based on FOIA exemption (b)(3), in conjunction with I.R.C. § 6103, and/or FOIA exemption (b)(7) or by replying that responsive records were not available or did not exist.

TIGTA reviewed a statistically valid sample of 55 FOIA/Privacy Act information requests from a population of 3,415 FOIA/Privacy Act requests and found nine (16.4 percent) in which taxpayer rights may have been violated because the IRS improperly withheld or failed to adequately search for and provide information to requestors.


In addition, the IRS may have violated taxpayer rights by failing to adequately search for and provide information in three (5.6 percent) of 54 sampled I.R.C. § 6103 information requests. When the sample results are projected to their respective populations, approximately 559 FOIA/Privacy Act and 13 I.R.C. § 6103 information requests may have had information erroneously withheld. ... Additionally, sensitive taxpayer information was inadvertently disclosed in response to nine (16.4 percent) of the FOIA/Privacy Act and four (7.4 percent) of the I.R.C. § 6103 information requests reviewed.

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