The United States has entered into a number of agreements with other countries that govern the exchange of information for tax purposes. These international agreements include bilateral double tax conventions, tax information exchange agreements (TIEAs), intergovernmental agreements (IGAs) to implement the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), and the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters. Depending on the agreement’s terms, the United States may exchange information on request, automatically or spontaneously. (Automatic exchange of information is the principal form of exchange contemplated under the provisions of the IGAs implementing FATCA and for Country-by-Country Reporting.)
Information exchange provisions based on Article 26 of the U.S. Model Income Tax Convention and included in most U.S. tax treaties and TIEAs, and in FATCA IGAs with jurisdictions with which the United States does not have a bilateral or multilateral treaty or TIEA, require exchanged information to be kept confidential. Information exchanged may only be disclosed to and used by courts, administrative bodies and others involved in and for the purposes of assessment, collection, or administration, enforcement or prosecution, or determination of appeals concerning the taxes covered by the agreement. With very limited exceptions, tax administrations cannot disclose exchanged information to persons or agencies not authorized under the information exchange agreement or use such information for non-tax purposes. Information exchanged with respect to Country-by-Country Reporting can be used by tax administrations for assessing high-level transfer pricing risks, base erosion and profit shifting related risks, and, where appropriate, for economic and statistical analysis; but the information may not be used as a substitute for a detailed transfer pricing analysis of individual transactions and prices based on a full functional analysis and a full comparability analysis.
The United States takes the confidentiality of its taxpayers’ data very seriously and protects it through U.S. domestic law as well as international agreements. Internal Revenue Code section 6103 provides for the confidentiality of taxpayer data, including taxpayer data that is exchanged under an international agreement. Civil liability and criminal penalties may be imposed under the Code for unauthorized disclosure of taxpayer data. Additionally, Code section 6105 reinforces international agreements in providing for the confidentiality of data exchanged under international agreements. If the United States determines that a tax jurisdiction is not in compliance with the confidentiality requirements and appropriate use restrictions under the applicable information exchange agreement, the United States may suspend information exchange with the tax jurisdiction.
The United States encourages anyone who is aware of a suspected unauthorized disclosure or use of information exchanged under an international agreement to which the United States is a party to notify the office of Treaty Administration within the IRS Large Business and International Division by sending a description of the incident to the Exchange of Information Disclosure mailbox. The subject line of the email should indicate "Report of Suspected Unauthorized Disclosure or Use of Exchanged Information”.
The email description should include all relevant information, including, but not limited to:
- Name and contact information (including telephone number and email address) of the individual submitting the information, so that the IRS may contact you to clarify details or make further inquiries, and
- Details about the incident, to the extent known.
Do not include any information that could identify a taxpayer, including any taxpayer identification number (e.g., social security number, individual taxpayer identification number).
All alleged unauthorized disclosures or use of information will be investigated and followed up with appropriate actions.