- 11.3.11 Other Information Available to the Public
- 220.127.116.11 General
- 18.104.22.168 News Media Inquiries
- 22.214.171.124 Disclosure to Correct Misstatement of Fact
- 126.96.36.199.1 Misstatement Made by the Taxpayer
- 188.8.131.52.2 Misstatements Made by Third Parties
- 184.108.40.206.3 Coordination of Authorization
- 220.127.116.11 Disclosure of Undeliverable Tax Refunds Information
- 18.104.22.168 Requests for IRS Documents Containing Employee Names
- 22.214.171.124 Tax Court Case Records
- 126.96.36.199 Comments on Proposed Rules and Regulations
- 188.8.131.52 Public Inspection of Accepted Offers-in-Compromise
- 184.108.40.206 Inquiries Regarding Seizures and Sales
- 220.127.116.11.1 Record of Seizure and Sale of Real Estate
- 18.104.22.168 Disclosure of Amount of Outstanding Lien
- 22.214.171.124.1 Explanation of Terms
- 126.96.36.199 Forwarding Letters for Humane Reasons
- 188.8.131.52.1 Examples of Humane Purposes
- 184.108.40.206.2 Processing Letter Forwarding Requests (less than 50)
- 220.127.116.11.3 Project 753, Computerized Mailout Program
- 18.104.22.168 Forwarding Letters for Federal, State and Local Government Agencies
- 22.214.171.124 Information Which Has Become Public Record
- 126.96.36.199 Disclosure of Statistical Data
Part 11. Communications and Liaison
Chapter 3. Disclosure of Official Information
Section 11. Other Information Available to the Public
September 21, 2015
(1) This transmits revised text for IRM 11.3.11, Disclosure of Official Information, Other Information Available to the Public.
(1) Editorial changes are made throughout to update IRM/statute/organizational references and terms. Web and citation references were added/updated throughout to make the text easier to research in electronic media. Where necessary, changes to organizational titles have been updated
(2) IRM 188.8.131.52 has been updated to remove the reference to the fact that disclosures pursuant to IRC 6103 (m)(1) are re-delegated. The current version of Delegation Order 11-2 contains no redelegation authority under this subsection
(3) IRM 184.108.40.206(2) has been updated to reflect the current citations of the Collection IRM related to processing offers-in-compromise
(4) IRM 220.127.116.11.1(3) has been updated to reflect the SBSE organizational name of the group responsible for public inspection of records related to the seizure and sale of real estate
(5) IRM 18.104.22.168 has been updated to reflect changes in the letter forwarding policy. Policy Statement 11-96 and Revenue Procedure 2012-25 allow for letter forwarding only for humane reasons. Employee Plan administrators and other locator services may no longer utilize the letter forwarding program.
The Governmental Liaison and Disclosure intranet home page can be found at: http://discl.web.irs.gov/GLD.asp
Edward T. Killen
Director, Governmental Liaison, Disclosure and Safeguards
Consistent with statutory disclosure requirements, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tries to keep the public informed about its operations.
When a request for information is received, the requested material is made available to the extent that disclosure is not prohibited by statute and tax administration is not impaired by releasing the requested data.
Requests from and replies to national news media are to be coordinated with the Director, National Headquarters Communications and Liaison.
Field offices will coordinate with the local Field Media Relations Specialist. See IRM 22.214.171.124, Media Relations (National and Field Branches).
There may be instances where limited disclosures to correct a misstatement of fact may be warranted.
These situations are rare and require disclosure approval by the Commissioner IRS and the Joint Committee on Taxation. These disclosures will be approved only if the misstatement will have a significant impact on tax administration. See IRC § 6103(k)(3) and Delegation Order 11-2.
The IRS should seek authorization to disclose only when a misstatement of fact can potentially instigate taxpayer noncompliance, cause a proliferation of taxpayer noncompliance, or impugns the integrity of the IRS.
Whenever field personnel become aware of any situation where a misstatement may warrant correction by the IRS through the disclosure of return information, they should contact their servicing Disclosure Manager for assistance.
The Office of Governmental Liaison, Disclosure and Safeguards (GLDS) is responsible for coordinating efforts to secure Joint Committee authorization. The Disclosure Manager is the initial contact point in the field. The Disclosure Manager will collect all necessary information from the field function requesting the disclosure and documentation as specified below and will forward it to the Disclosure Policy & Program Operations Manager .
The Disclosure Policy & Program Operations Manager or his/her delegate will forward a request to the Director, Office of Governmental Liaison, Disclosure and Safeguards (GLDS) via memo, requesting Joint Committee approval to disclose return information in order to correct the misstatement of fact. Adequate supporting documentation (e.g., copies of articles containing the misstatement, reports by IRS personnel, transcripts of accounts, examination reports, work papers) will be attached. A courtesy copy should be shared with the local Disclosure staff that helped to prepare the package. See (5) above. If OD/FD/HQ functions wish to require management involvement at a higher level than the area level, they should establish additional procedures for this purpose.
The memo from the Disclosure Policy & Program Operations Manager to the Director GLDS should contain the following information:
The name, address and SSN of the taxpayer with respect to whom the disclosure is requested.
A brief history of the taxpayer's dealings and status with the IRS (e.g., activities associated with non-compliance, record of late filings and payments, audits, penalty assessments, Title 26 convictions). The description should give an adequate profile of the taxpayer's tax affairs with the IRS.
The nature and/or specifics of the misstatement including all documentation;
The effect on tax administration. To the extent possible, affected IRS operations should provide specific reasons why the misstatement actually or potentially instigates noncompliance, causes a proliferation of noncompliance, or impugns the integrity of the IRS. A general statement to this effect in the memorandum is not adequate.
Repercussions resulting from the misstatement, such as media stories, interview requests, letters to the editor, and calls or letters from taxpayers who had seen or heard the misstatement, and perhaps expressed support for the originator of the misstatement. If there were no such repercussions, the memo must state that as well.
The proposed disclosure to correct the misstatement of fact. This does not have to be a verbatim statement of the contemplated disclosure. However, it should contain enough information to allow the Office of Governmental Liaison, Disclosure and Safeguards to prepare a verbatim statement of the information proposed for disclosure if requested by the Joint Committee.
The reason why disclosure is necessary for tax administration purposes. The information developed in c), d), and e) above should help to summarize why disclosure of return information will correct any harm caused by the misstatement.
If the taxpayer was not the source of the misstatement, provide the identity of the person who made the misstatement and his or her relationship to the taxpayer. Note whether the person making the misstatement has power of attorney. If known, indicate his or her purpose for making the misstatement;
If the misstatement is reported by the media, clarify whether the misstatement is a direct quote from or simply attributed to the taxpayer.
Any other information about the misstatement that the Commissioner should have in order to make an informed decision.
After receipt of the request for disclosure from the referring office, the Office of Governmental Liaison, Disclosure and Safeguards will prepare a letter to the Chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation for the Commissioner's signature. The letter must contain the information in IRM 126.96.36.199.1 or IRM 188.8.131.52.2, below, depending on whether the taxpayer or a third party made the misstatement.
If the taxpayer made a misstatement, the Office of Governmental Liaison, Disclosure and Safeguards will prepare a letter indicating the following:
The person about whom the disclosure is requested;
The nature of the misstatement;
The general nature of the disclosure proposed to correct the misstatement, including what will be disclosed, how the information will be disseminated, and who has the authority to make the disclosure; and
Why the disclosure is necessary for tax administration purposes.
The information should be a condensed version of what the referring office provided. While individual cases vary, each item should generally be limited to one paragraph.
In cases where the taxpayer makes the misstatement, the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Joint Committee will authorize disclosure for the Committee.
The letter to the Joint Committee will be prepared in duplicate with an authorization line for each signer. One copy will be returned to the IRS.
When a misstatement is repeated by the media, a distinction must be made about who actually made the misstatement.
If the media directly quotes the taxpayer, the quote will be considered made by the taxpayer.
If the misstatement is attributed to the taxpayer or otherwise reported without directly quoting the taxpayer, the misstatement will be considered as made by a third party.
The Joint Committee will scrutinize these cases more closely, so it is essential that information about the third party be as complete as possible.
A letter will be prepared covering the same information specified in IRM 184.108.40.206.1. An additional paragraph will be added outlining the circumstances where the third party made the misstatement. These guidelines should be followed for specific situations:
If the third party is the taxpayer's representative, attach any documentation establishing their relationship.
If the third party is a member of the media, explain how he/she reported the misstatement. If possible, send a copy of the article or transcript of the report with the letter.
The Chief Communications and Liaison through the Director, Office of Communications is responsible for reviewing the request prior to obtaining the Commissioner's signature.
Once the Commissioner signs the request, it will be delivered expeditiously to the Joint Committee.
When the Joint Committee approves the disclosure, the Director, Office of Governmental Liaison, Disclosure and Safeguards will notify the referring office. The referring office will then notify the appropriate subordinate office.
The disclosing office will submit a written report of the disclosure to the Director, Office of Governmental Liaison, Disclosure and Safeguards.
IRC § 6103(m)(1) permits IRS (through the Secretary of the Treasury) to disclose taxpayers' names and the cities, states and zip codes of their filing addresses to the press and other media for purposes of notifying persons entitled to undeliverable tax refunds.
IRS Delegation Order 11-2 re-delegates this authority to various officials within Communication and Media Relations.
Requests from non-media entities, such as taxpayers or commercial use requesters, must be in writing and processed under procedures contained in IRM 11.3.13, Freedom of Information Act. Requests from Congressional offices, government agencies, and other media outlets may be honored consistent with (4) below, without the need for a FOIA request.
Disclosable information is limited to that previously released to the media pursuant to IRC § 6103(m)(1). It is not necessary that the information be published subsequently by the media.
Fees are prescribed in IRM 11.3.5.
Portions of the IRS Discovery Directory can be downloaded to a file and can be released to the public. However, the names of employees in the GS-0083, 0512, 0930, 1169, 1801, 1802, 1810 and 1811 job series or those using pseudonyms must be deleted. Contact your Disclosure Manager with any questions.
The cost for copying is prescribed in IRM 11.3.5, Fees.
Exercise caution when releasing employee identity information to ensure that such information would not identify the true name of an employee using an authorized pseudonym. IRS systems are being modified to replace true names with approved pseudonyms to protect their employees' true identities.
The United States Tax Court is a judicial body that is not a part of the IRS.
Tax Court closed case records are available for public inspection at:
Court's Copywork Office
400 2nd Street, NW
Washington, DC 20217
As part of the process of writing new rules and regulations, or amending existing ones, Chief Counsel will invite comments from the general public by placing a Notice of Proposed Rule Making in the Federal Register.
Comments received are available to the public in the Headquarters Freedom of Information Reading Room. See Treasury Regulation § 601.702(d)(7).
IRC § 6103(k)(1) provides for the public inspection of certain Offers-in-Compromise. Treasury Regulation § 301.7122-1(j) and the instructions for Form 656, Offers in Compromise, both refer to this provision.
Treasury Regulation § 601.702(d)(8) requires that Form 7249, Offer Acceptance Report, for each accepted offer in compromise with respect to any liability for tax imposed by Title 26 will be available for inspection and copying. Applicable Forms 7249 will be available for one year from the date of execution. The inspection file will be maintained so that it is readily available for examination by the public. See IRM 220.127.116.11, Public Inspection File for the complete closing accepted offers procedures.
Case histories prepared by the appropriate functions relating to the consideration of the offer are not open to inspection and may be disclosed only as permitted by other provisions of IRC § 6103.
Requests for copies of Form 7249 available under (2) above, where no personal inspection is involved, should be in writing and processed in accordance with IRM 11.3.13, Disclosure of Official Information - Freedom of Information Act.
Requests to inspect Forms 7249 that are not available under paragraph (2) above because more than one year has elapsed since acceptance should be in writing and processed in accordance with IRM 11.3.13, Freedom of Information Act.
Treasury Regulations §§ 301.7122-1 and 601.702(d)(8) also provide guidance for inspection for offers in compromise matters.
An inquiry whether property subject to levy has been seized from a specifically named person will be answered provided a notice of tax lien has been filed and a seizure warning notice or notice of sale has been posted. See Policy Statement 11-95 (formerly 1-186 in IRM 1.2.19), Servicewide Policies and Authorities - Policy Statements for Communications, Liaison and Disclosure Activities.
The name of a purchaser of personal property, along with the description of such property and the sale price, may be provided in the event of a sale, whether the sale was conducted by auction or the submission of sealed bids.
Part 1 of any Record 21 (Rev. 3/2008), Record of Seizure and Sale of Real Estate, is available for inspection by a purchaser, abstractor, or title insurer pursuant to IRC § 6103(k)(6) only if required to accomplish the sale of seized property.
Normally, disclosure of only blocks 14 and 15 of Record 21 would meet this criterion as the purchaser or title insurer may need to verify the legality (sale procedural compliance) of a seizure and sale to obtain or issue the title insurance. A determination of whether to release these non-public portions of the Record 21 must be made on a case-by-case basis, weighing the particular items of information sought, the requester's need for such information, and whether the disclosure of the information is necessary to carry out the activities described in Treas. Reg. § 301.6103(k)(6)-1(a).
Part 1 of any Record 21 (Rev. 3/2008), is also available for inspection by the taxpayer, pursuant to IRC § 6103(e)(7).
Part 2 of Record 21 is available for public inspection in the SB/SE Collection Advisory group that maintains the record based on the location of the property.
Requests for copies of Part 2 of Record 21 should be in writing and processed in accordance with IRM 11.3.13, Freedom of Information Act.
IRC § 6103(k)(2) provides that if a notice of lien has been filed pursuant to IRC § 6323(f), the amount of the outstanding balance secured by the lien may be disclosed to any person who furnishes satisfactory written evidence of his/her right in the property or intent to acquire a right in the property. See Delegation Order 11-2 for the officials having the authority to disclose or authorize disclosure under IRC § 6103(k)(2).
Generally, disclosure of payoff information to an escrow agent, title company, or similar entity requires a taxpayer's consent under IRC § 6103(c). See IRM 11.3.3, Disclosure to Designees and Practitioners, for further information. Consents can be written (e.g., Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization), or oral (see Treasury Regulation § 301.6103(c)-1(c)). Escrow agents and title companies are generally agents for disbursing funds consisting of the purchaser's earnest money down payment and the proceeds of a loan. This role does not qualify them as a person paying the tax liability since they are not the source of the funds nor can they direct payment of funds. In addition, they do not acquire an interest in the property subject to sale. See IRM 18.104.22.168.1 below.
The IRS has determined that if a Notice of Federal Tax Lien has been filed for multiple periods but Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representation, has been prepared for only some of the periods, the full related tax information from the lien (or Collection due process notice) without redactions for non-covered periods can be made to the representative. If the representative wishes to further discuss the non-covered periods, a revised/new Form 2848 must be filed. Where Form 8821 (or equivalent), is involved, the same disclosure requirements discussed above for Form 2848 appointees apply to the Form 8821 designee when necessary to resolve a Federal tax matter.
A situation may occur where the person requesting the outstanding balance does not have nor intend to obtain a right in the property subject to a lien, but expresses a desire to make a payment toward the outstanding liability. In such cases, the outstanding balance owed may be disclosed to that individual under IRC § 6103(k)(6), if they demonstrate the willingness and the means to pay. This also applies to analogous balance due accounts where no lien has been filed. If the requester does not intend to fully pay the account, and it is otherwise unnecessary to disclose the actual balance due, then the balance due should not be disclosed. No other tax information about the account can be disclosed (except for publicly available tax information, addressed in IRM 22.214.171.124). Since IRC § 6103(k)(6) is a discretionary provision, IRS functions may set their own specific criteria for making these disclosures or prohibiting them completely, within the context of program administration.
For purposes of IRC § 6103(k)(2), the term "right" includes prior recorded judgments, whether or not executed, subsequently recorded judgments, title interest, and possessory interest.
"Satisfactory written evidence" encompasses any written evidence, including a written declaration by the requester, indicating that person has a right or intends to obtain a right in the property subject to the lien.
The addresses of taxpayers are return information and can only be disclosed in a manner authorized by the Internal Revenue Code.
In circumstances where a humane purpose may be served, the IRS may forward a letter for the requester. (See Policy Statement 11-96 and Rev. Proc. 2012-25.) Letters to be forwarded should be sent to the following address:
Internal Revenue Service
Centralized Processing Unit
Post Office 621506
Atlanta, GA 30362-3006
Requests can also be faxed to IRS at 877-891-6035
For requests sent by express mail services (UPS, FedEx, etc), the shipping address is:
4800 Buford Hwy
Chamblee, GA 30341
Under these procedures, the IRS cannot provide the requester with information concerning the results of its efforts. To do so would violate IRC § 6103.
It is IRS policy not to forward letters that serve to seek reparation for obligations due the requester or for court processing services. (See Policy Statement 11-96)
The receiving office will decide if the request meets the humane purpose criteria.
Someone seeking to find a missing person to convey a message of an urgent or compelling nature, such as notification of serious illness, imminent death or the death of a close relative or a person seeking a missing relative.
A matter involving the health and well being of a number of persons, such as persons being sought for a medical study to detect and treat medical defects or diseases
Family member attempting to trace his or her family tree does not qualify as a humane purpose nor does an attempt to locate coworkers, friends, etc. for reunion purposes.
The receiving office will determine if the humane purpose criteria is met .
When a social security number (SSN) is furnished, we will search our records to determine if we have an address.
IRS will provide a written or telephonic acknowledgment of receipt of the request to the requester. If acknowledged telephonically, document the case history notes appropriately.
If an address is found, forward the letter in an IRS envelope. No checks or documents that need to be retained (should the letter be undeliverable) can be included in the mailing in light of the procedures in (5) below. If the letter to be forwarded does not include a disclaimer, advise the recipient that:
"We are forwarding the letter in accordance with current IRS policy. We have not divulged your address, nor any other tax information. IRS has no involvement in the matter aside from forwarding the letter, and the decision of whether to respond is entirely up to you."
In certain compelling circumstances (e.g., death bed situations), IRS officials are free to attempt to contact the proposed recipient by telephone or other communication vehicle in order to provide more timely notice. The recipient should still be advised of the general information in the IRS disclaimer statement.
If an address cannot be found or the communication is returned as undeliverable, , the requester will not be notified of this action.
If a request involves more than one potential recipient, the requester should include a disclaimer statement in each letter or notice informing the recipient that the IRS has not disclosed his/her address or any other tax information and is involved only to the extent of forwarding the letter/notice. The disclaimer should be conspicuously placed in the letter/notice so the recipient will not miss it. The following language should be used:
"In accordance with current policy, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has agreed to forward this letter/notice because we do not have your current address. The IRS has not disclosed your address or any other tax information and has no involvement in the matter aside from forwarding the letter/notice. Your response to this letter is voluntary."
If no disclaimer is required, be sure to follow the procedures in (4) above.
Requests from private individuals, organizations and corporations involving letter forwarding to less than 50 potential recipients, based on aggregate calendar year volumes, are to be sent to the address in IRM 126.96.36.199(2) above.
No charge will be made for forwarding less than 50 letters.
If a requester appears to be structuring/segmenting requests solely to avoid being charged for volume letter forwarding, the requests should not be processed. These requesters will be advised to accumulate requests and submit a Project 753, Computerized Mailout Program, request as detailed in IRM 188.8.131.52.3 below. Instructions for Project 753 should be provided to the requester.
Congressional inquiries seeking address assistance on behalf of constituents will be responded to in a manner similar to those for a private individual.
Requests involving 50 or more potential recipients will be processed under Project 753. The requester will be charged for this service unless a special waiver has been agreed to by all functions involved (e.g., this might occur where the service is being provided for another IRS function).
Such requests should be forwarded to the address listed in IRM 184.108.40.206(2) above and should provide the following information:
A brief explanation of the need for letter forwarding;
The number of potential recipients;
Whether the requester has the SSN of each individual;
A sample of the letter to be forwarded; and
A statement that an IBM 3490 compatible cartridge or other automation specifications can be met.
Disclosure will coordinate the request with Information Technology (IT) via a Work Request (WR).
The IT function will review the request and determine if and when assistance can be provided. Contractual arrangements with the requester will be handled by IT. That function will provide the requester with a cost estimate, specifications for submitting the names and SSNs of the recipients, and an estimated timetable for completion.
The Office of Governmental Liaison, Disclosure and Safeguards and IT are authorized by Policy Statement 11-96 to enter into contractual agreements with private individuals, organizations and corporations for reimbursable letter forwarding services.
Policy Statement 11-96 permits the IRS to forward letters on behalf of Federal, State, and local agencies provided tax administration functions are not disrupted. In addition, letter forwarding can be performed for IRS functions not otherwise entitled to access taxpayers' entity information.
Forwarding of letters for Federal, State, and local agencies is not restricted to the humane reasons referred to in IRM 220.127.116.11.1 above. However, the restriction of IRM 18.104.22.168(4) still applies.
Policy Statement 11-96 authorizes agreements between the IRS and federal, state and local government officials for forwarding letters. The agency sends the request to the Associate Director Data Services, GLDS via the processing unit discussed at IRM 22.214.171.124(2) who approves the letters to be forwarded as well as the request. Once approved, the request is sent to the Director, IT for approval and creation of the reimbursable agreement.
Requests for letter forwarding involving 50 or more individuals will be submitted for processing in accordance with the procedures described in IRM 126.96.36.199.3.
Requests involving 49 or fewer letters to be forwarded on behalf of other Federal, State and local agencies, will be processed in accordance with the procedures described in IRM 188.8.131.52.2.
No provision of the Internal Revenue Code expressly permits the disclosure of tax data solely on the basis that the information has become a matter of public record in the course of any judicial or administrative proceeding or activity pertaining to tax administration.
However, IRS policy permits and encourages press releases and responses to media inquiries regarding enforcement activities that have become a matter of public record. See Policy Statement 11-94 and Policy Statement 11-95.
The IRS has consistently argued that tax information placed in the public record in connection with tax administration is no longer confidential and cannot be "disclosed" within the meaning of IRC § 6103(b)(8) if the IRS has already made such information known in public records during tax administration activities.
The absence of expressed statutory authority for the disclosure of such information has generated conflicting judicial opinions as to whether IRC § 6103 prohibits such disclosure.
In light of the inconsistency in the positions adopted by circuit courts of appeal, caution should be exercised before using the public record exception as a basis for the release of otherwise confidential tax information.
IRS personnel should consult with Office of Governmental Liaison, Disclosure and Safeguards or Chief Counsel regarding any questions they may have about the relevance or application of the public record exception, on a case by case basis, prior to disclosing information based on the public record exception.
Great care should be exercised when determining if tax information has actually become a matter of public record, as information supplemental to that which has become public remains subject to the confidentiality provisions.
Before releasing information from a document that has become part of the public record, IRS employees should verify that the information conforms in all respects to what was made public. The source and attribution rules should be followed; i.e., obtain the document from the public source and attribute the released information to the sourced document.
Information made public by a taxpayer or third party that is identical to returns or return information possessed by the IRS does not affect the confidentiality of such returns or return information.
The IRS cannot use return information to confirm information made public by any other party unless specifically authorized to do so by IRC § 6103.
Tax return information can be released if it will not disclose information that could, directly or indirectly, be associated with or identify a particular taxpayer.
The Director of Research, Analysis and Statistics (RAS) will determine whether or not to conduct a special statistical study or compilation in consultation with the heads of the responsible IRS offices and, when Statistics of Income resources are involved, with the Director of Treasury’s Office of Tax Analysis.
IRC § 6108 (b) authorizes the performances of such studies.
Procedures for requesting these studies are found in Revenue Procedure 2006-36.
Requests received from the public or other agencies for these types of studies should be forwarded to RAS.