PTIN Information and the Freedom of Information Act
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), enacted in 1966, gives any person the right to access federal agency records, unless the information is protected from public disclosure by one of nine exemptions. FOIA authorizes government agencies to recover the cost of complying with a FOIA request.
Under FOIA, certain information submitted to the IRS by an individual applying for a preparer tax identification number (PTIN) must be disclosed by the IRS and the individual cannot opt out of the disclosure.
FOIA Awareness for PTIN Holders
The PTIN holder information subject to public disclosure includes:
- Business name
- Business website address
- Business phone number
- Business mailing address – Either a physical address or a P.O. Box is acceptable as a business address.
- Email address – Any valid email address that you check regularly for PTIN communications is acceptable.
- Professional credentials
Updating your contact information
To maintain the privacy of your personal information, PTIN holders can update contact information.
Legitimate IRS emails regarding PTIN issues are sent from two email addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org and TaxPro_PTIN@irs.gov. The IRS is aware of malicious emails attempting to spoof these email addresses. Pay careful attention to whether an email is actually from one of these addresses. If you feel that you have received a suspicious phishing email, follow the directions found here.
If you receive email solicitations from other organizations and they are unwanted, the Federal Trade Commission, Bureau of Consumer Protection provides guidance on whether an email or other contact violates the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 and how to report violations.
Additionally, exercise caution on websites without a .gov domain. Only sites with the .gov domain are official government websites.
PTIN application changes
To clearly distinguish between public and private information, the IRS changed the “Permanent Mailing Address” box on the PTIN application to “Personal Mailing Address”. This change clarified that the information is personal and exempt from public disclosure under FOIA rules.
Also, the IRS removed the prohibition on entering a post office box in the “Business Mailing Address” box on the PTIN application. PTIN holders may now enter a P.O. Box as their business mailing address.
If you used your Personal Mailing Address as your Business Mailing Address or used a street address when you preferred to provide a P.O Box as your Business Mailing Address, you may update your contact information. But note that your Business Mailing Address is not exempt from disclosure under FOIA rules and it will be released even if it is the same as your Personal Mailing Address.
FOIA request procedures
How do external parties obtain PTIN holder info through FOIA? Refer to Return Preparer PTIN Listing for procedures.