5.1.22 Disclosure

Manual Transmittal

August 01, 2019

Purpose

(1) This transmits a revised IRM 5.1.22, Field Collecting Procedures, Disclosure.

Material Changes

(1) IRM 5.1.22 was modified to include Internal Controls as required by IRM 1.11.2, Internal Management Documents System, Internal Revenue Manual (IRM) Process.

(2) 5.1.22.1.1 clarifies that guidance throughout this IRM pertains to Field Collection revenue officers and group managers.

(3) 5.1.22.2 was added to address the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TBOR).

(4) 5.1.22.4(4) removed reference to paragraph (10) of IRM 11.3.2.4.1, Individuals, as paragraph (10) has been removed from IRM 11.3.2.4.1 in the last revision.

(5) 5.1.22.4(4) removed GLD guidance pertaining to frequency with which requesters may request information.

(6) 5.1.22.4.1 clarifies what information can be released/withheld when communicating with a taxpayer and/or their authorized representative.

(7) 5.1.22.4.1(1) provides disclosure guidance involving mirrored accounts for MFT 30/31 and MFT 35/65 while also defining an authorized representative.

(8) 5.1.22.4.1(3) removed GLD guidance pertaining to frequency with which requesters may request information.

(9) 5.1.22.4.1(5) clarifies that a verbal response can be given upon receipt of a verbal or written request for IRC §6103(e)(7) information.

(10) 5.1.22.4.1(8) provides case examples to reinforce guidance on disclosure of collection activities on joint returns for divorced or separated spouses.

(11) 5.1.22.7(5) clarifies that the taxpayer’s Social Security Number or Employer Identification Number must be redacted on transcripts prior to providing to the taxpayer and/or their authorized representative.

(12) 5.1.22.8(5) provides the requirements for non-written requests for information.

(13) Minor editorial changes have been made throughout this IRM. Website addresses, email addresses, and IRM references were reviewed and updated as necessary.

Effect on Other Documents

This IRM supersedes IRM 5.1.22 dated October 23, 2014. This IRM incorporates Interim Guidance Memorandum SBSE-05-0419-0010, Interim Guidance on Disclosure of Collection Activities on Joint Returns for Divorced or Separated Spouses, dated April 16, 2019.

Audience

The audience is revenue officers and group managers in SB/SE Field Collection who have direct contact with taxpayers and/or their authorized representatives as part of their official duties.

Effective Date

(08-01-2019)

Nikki C. Johnson
Director, Collection Policy
Small Business/Self Employed Division

Program Scope and Objectives

  1. Purpose. This IRM provides guidance to revenue officers and group managers in Field Collection on disclosure topics which may arise while communicating with taxpayers and/or their authorized representatives as part of their official duties. This IRM section also provides guidance to help protect taxpayer rights and taxpayer privacy during contacts with taxpayers and/or their authorized representatives.

  2. Audience. The guidance located in this IRM is specifically intended for use by revenue officers and group managers in Field Collection as they are the primary users of this IRM.

  3. Policy Owner. Director, Collection Policy, SB/SE is the policy owner of this IRM.

  4. Program Owner. Collection Policy, SB/SE is the program owner of this IRM.

  5. Primary Stakeholders. PGLD and Field Collection revenue officers and group managers are the primary stakeholders for this IRM.

  6. Program Goals. This IRM provides proper guidance to assist Field Collection revenue officers and group managers in protecting taxpayer rights and taxpayer privacy during contacts with taxpayers and/or their authorized representatives as part of their official duties.

  7. Contact Information. Recommendations and suggested changes to this IRM should be emailed to the IRM 5.1.22 Content Product Owner. The appropriate owner is indicated on the Product Catalog Information page which can be found on the Core Repository of Published Products (CROPP). Elevate any questions or concerns regarding these IRM procedures through your group manager (GM). GMs will direct any questions or concerns to the appropriate Area contact for possible referral to Headquarters.

Background

  1. IRM 5.1.22, Field Collecting Procedures, Disclosure, provides procedural guidance to be followed by Field Collection revenue officers and group managers as part of their official duties. This IRM provides guidance on disclosure topics which may arise while communicating with taxpayers and/or their authorized representatives. The guidelines in this IRM section provide the procedures to be followed to help protect taxpayer rights and taxpayer privacy during contacts with taxpayers and/or their authorized representatives. These procedures are consistent with the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, The Privacy Act of 1974, and the Freedom of Information Act.

Authority

  1. The following authorities provide the basis for these guidelines:

    • IRC §6103, Confidentiality and disclosure of returns and return information

    • IRC §7803(a)(3)(H), The right to confidentiality

    • Delegation Order 11-2, Authority to Permit Disclosure of Tax Information and to Permit Testimony or the Production of Documents

    • IRC §6502, Collection after assessment

    • Treasury Regulation 26 CFR § 301.6103(c)-1, Disclosure of returns and return information to designee of taxpayer

    • Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. § 552a)

    • Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. § 552)

Responsibilities

  1. Director, Collection Policy is responsible for the policies and procedures in this IRM.

  2. Director, Field Collection, has executive oversight for all Field Collection programs.

  3. Field Collection area directors, territory managers, and group managers are responsible for ensuring compliance by Field personnel with these procedures.

  4. Revenue officers are responsible for reading and implementing the procedures listed in this IRM.

Program Management and Review

  1. Program Reviews: Operational reviews are conducted by the Collection area directors and territory managers annually to evaluate program delivery and conformance to administrative and program requirements. Group managers participate in one or more Embedded Quality (EQ) consistency reviews each year to assist in rating EQ attributes. Group managers perform annual and periodic case and performance reviews as described in IRM 1.4.50, Resource Guide for Managers, Collection Group Manager, Territory Manager and Area Director Operational Aid. Collection Policy performs periodic program reviews to identify trends and opportunities for improvement.

  2. Program Effectiveness: National Quality Reviews and consistency reviews are routinely conducted to measure program consistency, effectiveness in case actions, and compliance with policy and procedures. Trends reported in these reviews are used to promote and improve program effectiveness. Trends, recommendations, and corrective actions issued during the course of program and operational reviews are used to identify opportunities for improvement and achieve program goals.

  3. Program Reports: The reports that Field Collection managers utilize to monitor inventory are addressed in IRM 1.4.50, Resource Guide for Managers, Collection Group Manager, Territory Manager and Area Director Operational Aid.

Program Controls

  1. Collection managers verify program and procedural compliance by conducting case consultations, case reviews, performance reviews, and security reviews. Prescribed internal controls are detailed in IRM 1.4.50, Resource Guide for Managers, Collection Group Manager, Territory Manager and Area Director Operational Aid which communicates responsibility to Collection managers for promoting quality case work and required internal controls. The ICS, ENTITY Case Management, Embedded Quality Review, and National Quality Review Systems provide the case access, data, and reports used by managers to monitor internal controls.

Terms/Definitions/Acronyms

  1. Acronyms:

    Acronym Definition
    BAL DUE Balance Due
    CNC Currently Not Collectible
    CROPP Core Repository of Published Products
    EQ Embedded Quality
    FOIA Freedom of Information Act
    GM Group Manager
    IMF Individual Master File
    IRC Internal Revenue Code
    IRM Internal Revenue Manual
    MFT Master File Transaction
    OIC Offer In Compromise
    PGLD Privacy, Governmental Liaison and Disclosure
    SBSE Small Business Self-Employed
    TBOR Taxpayer Bill of Rights
    TC Transaction Code
    TDS Transcript Delivery System
    TFRP Trust Fund Recovery Penalty
    TY Tax Year

Related Resources

  1. The Office of Disclosure helps all IRS employees protect confidential tax and other sensitive information.

  2. Contact the Disclosure Help Desk if you need assistance when questions arise concerning disclosure. Contact information for the Disclosure Help Desk can be located by clicking on the Disclosure link under the Technical Tools & Administrative Sites section on the IRS Source homepage.

  3. Refer to IRM 11.3, Disclosure of Official Information, specifically, IRM 11.3.2, Disclosure to Persons with a Material Interest, for additional guidance about disclosure.

  4. Access A Quick Guide to the release of Collection files on the Disclosure Knowledge Management page at: https://portal.ds.irsnet.gov/sites/vl003/lists/responddirectly/collection%20files.aspx for additional guidance concerning what information can be released or withheld.

  5. The Taxpayer Browsing Protection Act, enacted August 1997, provides that the willful unauthorized access or inspection of any taxpayer records, including hard copies of returns, return information, and taxpayer information maintained on a computer, is a crime. See IRM 5.1.3.7.5, Taxpayer Browsing Protection Act.

Taxpayer Rights

  1. Awareness of taxpayer rights is vitally important. The IRS adopted the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TBOR) in June 2014. Employees are responsible for being familiar with and acting in accordance with taxpayer rights. See IRC 7803(a)(3), Execution of Duties in Accord with Taxpayer Rights. The following taxpayer rights are in Publication 1 (rev. 9/2017), and are addressed in IRM 5.1.9, Collection Appeal Rights, and throughout IRM Part 5.

    • The right to be informed

    • The right to quality service

    • The right to pay no more than the correct amount of tax

    • The right to challenge the IRS’s position and be heard

    • The right to appeal an IRS decision in an independent forum

    • The right to finality

    • The right to privacy

    • The right to confidentiality

    • The right to retain representation

    • The right to a fair and just tax system.

  2. For additional information about TBOR, see https://www.irs.gov/taxpayer-bill-of-rights.

Disclosure of Criteria for Examination Selection

  1. It is the practice of the IRS to always respond to questions regarding the source of an audit. However, as Collection personnel do not routinely deal with the source of an audit, taxpayers who ask such questions need to be referred to the organization that performed the audit, e.g., Small Business/Self Employed Examination function or Specialty Programs, or Large Business and International (formerly Large and Mid Size Business).

  2. Refer the taxpayer to Publication 556, Examination of Returns, Appeal Rights, and Claims for Refund, or Publication 3498, The Examination Process.

Disclosure of Joint Returns — Divorced or Separated Spouses

  1. IRC § 6103(e)(8), Disclosure of collection activities with respect to joint return, provides for disclosures pertaining to deficiencies assessed with respect to persons who have filed jointly but are no longer married or separated and no longer reside in the same household.

  2. IRC § 6103(e)(8) clarifies that divorced or separated spouses may request information about the collection activities of their former spouse with respect to a jointly filed return. IRC § 6103(e)(8), unlike IRC § 6103(e)(7), requires a written request for information. The same information may be requested verbally under IRC § 6103(e)(7).

  3. IRC § 6103(e)(8):

    1. Is relative to tax deficiencies with respect to a jointly filed return.

    2. Provides that certain limited information regarding one spouse shall, upon written request (from the taxpayer or authorized representative), be open to inspection by or disclosure to the other spouse.

    3. Does not apply to deficiencies that may not be collected by reason of IRC § 6502, Collection after assessment, (that is, due to the expiration of the statute for collection).

  4. The IRS has the authority to develop procedures controlling the frequency with which any requester can make requests pursuant to IRC §6103(e)(8). Until such procedures are developed at a national level, Service personnel should follow any locally developed procedures relative to controlling the frequency with which any requester can make requests pursuant to IRC §6103(e)(8).

IRC § 6103(e)(7) Disclosure Procedures

  1. IRC §6103(e)(7) authorizes the IRS to disclose certain information about the IRS’s efforts to collect tax to taxpayers or their authorized representatives, when the taxpayers filed a joint return and are no longer married or separated and no longer reside in the same household. This guidance refers to MFT 30 and MFT 35 joint liabilities and mirrored accounts which reflect MFT 31 and MFT 65. An authorized representative is an individual authorized to practice before the IRS who the taxpayer has appointed to represent him/her before the IRS on a valid power of attorney (e.g., Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative).

  2. IRM 11.3.2.4.1.1, Disclosure of Collection Activities with Respect to Joint Returns, provides guidance to employees receiving verbal requests for collection actions taken on the other liable person on a jointly filed tax return. IRM 11.3.2.4.1.1(2) clarifies that, upon receipt of either a verbal or written request from a taxpayer or their authorized representative, the IRS may disclose limited information related to the collection of the tax from the other individual with whom the taxpayer filed a joint return when the taxpayer and the other individual are no longer married or are separated and no longer reside in the same household. Verbal requests will be honored if received from either spouse or his/her authorized representative, after verifying the identity of the person making the request to determine his/her right to the information. Disclosures made pursuant to IRC §6103(e)(7) are limited to the specific tax period associated with the requester's joint deficiency and the information should not be disclosed if its release will seriously impair federal tax administration.

  3. Follow any locally developed procedures relative to controlling the frequency with which any requester can make requests pursuant to IRC § 6103(e)(7) until such procedures are developed at a national level.

  4. See IRM 11.3, Disclosure of Official Information, for the general rules for disclosure of joint return information.

  5. Information that may be disclosed verbally upon receipt of a verbal or written request from an authorized representative or spouse who has been assessed the joint tax will include:

    1. whether the Service has attempted to collect the deficiency from the other spouse,

    2. the amount, if any, collected from the other spouse,

    3. the current collection status (e.g., BAL DUE, installment agreement, suspended), and/or

    4. the reason for any suspension, if applicable (e.g., unable to locate, hardship).

    Caution:

    Be aware of the information the requesting spouse is not entitled to under either IRC § 6103(e)(7) and IRC § 6103(e)(8).

  6. See IRM 5.1.22.4.1.1,Prohibited 6103(e)(8) Disclosures.

  7. Contact the Disclosure Help Desk if you need assistance when questions arise concerning the disclosure of divorced or separated spouses joint returns. Contact information for the Disclosure Help Desk can be located by clicking on the Disclosure link under the Technical Tools & Administrative Sites section on the IRS Source homepage.

  8. Some common case examples that a revenue officer and/or group manager may encounter while communicating with taxpayers who filed joint returns but are no longer married or separated and no longer reside in the same household include:

    Example Description
    OIC Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer filed a joint return for tax year 2016. They are now divorced and have mirrored assessments under MFT 31 for the year 2016. Mr. Taxpayer submitted an offer in compromise that was recently accepted. Mrs. Taxpayer calls in and asks if the IRS has tried contacting her husband as he has told her that he owes no more monies for the 2016 tax year. You review IDRS and see a TC 480, Offer in Compromise Pending and TC 780, Master File Account Compromised posted to his MFT 31 module. While speaking with Mrs. Taxpayer you can tell her that the account does reflect an OIC submission (TC 480) and acceptance (TC 780). You can relay what payments/refund offsets have credited to her MFT 31 and her current outstanding balance.
    Continuous Wage Levy Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer filed a joint return for tax year 2016. They are now divorced and have mirrored assessments under MFT 31 for tax year 2016. Mrs. Taxpayer has a continuous wage levy and the payments have credited to Mr. Taxpayer’s MFT 31 module. Mr. Taxpayer calls in to ask if the IRS is receiving regular payments from his ex-spouse. While speaking with Mr. Taxpayer, you can tell him that we are collecting monies from Mrs. Taxpayer; each month we are receiving $475.00 that is being credited to his 2016 module. The source of payment however, is not to be disclosed. You also can relay the payment amounts that have been credited to his MFT 31 module. You can relay his current outstanding balance. You cannot disclose any information about the other spouse's employment, income, or assets.
    Bankruptcy Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer filed a joint return for tax year 2016. They are now separated and no longer reside in the same household, and have mirrored assessments under MFT 31 for the year 2016. Mr. Taxpayer is currently in Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Mrs. Taxpayer calls and asks if the IRS has tried contacting her husband. While speaking with Mrs. Taxpayer you can tell her we have been in contact with Mr. Taxpayer and his account is suspended due to bankruptcy status. You cannot disclose when the account will reactivate or what chapter was filed.
    Currently Not Collectible Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer filed a joint return for tax year 2016 and the liability was mirrored following a separation in 2017. Mr. Taxpayer now resides in another home. Mr. Taxpayer called to provide financial information and was placed in CNC status. Mrs. Taxpayer called to make a payment and inquired if we contacted Mr. Taxpayer to have him pay on the balance also. Mrs. Taxpayer said she did not know where he was currently living and asked for his current address. While speaking with Mrs. Taxpayer you can tell her that we spoke with Mr. Taxpayer and that he is in CNC status. You cannot disclose at what income level the CNC module will reactivate. You cannot provide her with his new address.
    Disclosure of telephone number Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer filed a joint return for tax year 2016. They are now separated and no longer reside in the same household, and have mirrored assessments under MFT 31/MFT 65 for the year 2016. Mrs. Taxpayer currently has an installment agreement. Mr. Taxpayer calls and asks if the IRS has tried contacting his wife. He would like the phone number to contact her to discuss their tax matters. You can advise that we have been in contact with Mrs. Taxpayer and that she has established an installment agreement. You cannot disclose Mrs. Taxpayer’s phone number.
    Offset Payment Recently, Mr. & Mrs. Taxpayer divorced but still have joint tax liabilities that are outstanding for tax years 2013 & 2015. Their joint account was mirrored and each has an MFT 31 for TY 2013 & 2015. Mr. Taxpayer sent in a payment totaling $2,000.00 and it credited to and full paid TY2013. There is still a balance for TY2015 in the amount of $3,500.00. Mrs. Taxpayer called in to set up an installment agreement for the balances. She inquired what the current balances were for both tax years. You can provide Mrs. Taxpayer with the information about Mr. Taxpayer’s recent payment amount, which tax year it was applied to, and that TY2013 is full paid and the amount outstanding for TY2015.
    Contact Information Request You received a call from Mr. Taxpayer’s authorized representative to resolve the outstanding balance for TY2016. You recognize that it was a mirrored assessment based on a joint return. The authorized representative would like to set up an installment agreement for $100 per month. He asked what other payments have been applied to the balance. The authorized representative knows that the ex-wife was recently remarried and is trying to locate her but has been unsuccessful. He asks if we have been in contact with the ex-wife and if he can have her contact information. You can provide the authorized representative with the payments applied to TY2016 and the current balance on the account. You cannot provide the authorized representative with the name, address, or phone number for the ex-wife as he does not represent her in these tax matters.
    Payment Information Request In 2016, Mr. & Mrs. Taxpayer separated and Mrs. Taxpayer relocated to a different state. They filed joint returns for 2015 & 2016 and owe a total of $15,000.00. Both taxpayers filed their individual tax returns for 2017 and their refunds offset to the balance. Mr. Taxpayer called and established an installment agreement for $250.00 per month after he secured new employment with a higher income. Mrs. Taxpayer called in to provide us with a change of address and to inquire about the balance due. She asked if we spoke to her husband and if he is making payments because he is not calling her and he owes her money. You can provide to Mrs. Taxpayer the amount of each credit applied to the balances for TY 2015 & 2016. The credits would include her refund offset, his refund offset, and any $250.00 payment received to date from the installment agreement. You cannot provide Mrs. Taxpayer with the source of her husband’s income or the amount of income he is earning.
    Seizure and sale activity Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer filed a joint return for tax year 2008. They are now divorced and their joint tax liability has been mirrored. Mr. Taxpayer inherited real property after the divorce that has recently been seized and sold. A significant amount of money has been applied to the 2008 tax year due to the sale proceeds. Mrs. Taxpayer called in advising the ex-spouse states none of these funds will credit to her portion of the 2008 debt. She asks for confirmation of this information. You advise that a payment in the amount of $44,000.00 posted to the 2008 mirrored module for each spouse. You relay the date that it posted and the amount of the outstanding balance.
Prohibited 6103(e)(8) Disclosures
  1. Do not disclose the following information regardless of whether a request is made under IRC § 6103(e)(7) or IRC § 6103(e)(8):

    1. the other spouse's location or telephone number,

    2. any information about the other spouse's employment, income, or assets, and/or

    3. the income level at which a suspended account will be reactivated.

Other Joint Return Disclosure Procedures

  1. Contact the Disclosure Help Desk if you need assistance when questions arise concerning the disclosure of divorced or separated spouses joint returns. Contact information for the Disclosure Help Desk can be located by clicking on the Disclosure link under the Technical Tools & Administrative Sites section on the IRS Source homepage.

  2. Refer requests for information concerning divorced or separated spouses beyond that provided for in IRC § 6103(e)(8) or that is otherwise statutorily available pursuant to IRC §6103(e), Disclosure to Persons Having Material Interest, to the Office of Disclosure.

  3. Advise the taxpayer or the taxpayer’s authorized representative to make a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request or a Privacy Act request if he/she desires further information. These requirements along with other information can be found at https://www.irs.gov/privacy-disclosure/freedom-of-information-act-foia-guidelines.

Information Submitted by a Spouse

  1. Accept and process any information, as appropriate, received from one spouse regarding unexplored sources of collection from the other spouse.

  2. Do not inform the other spouse of the results, other than as discussed above in IRM 5.1.22.4.1(5).

Disclosure of Trust Fund Recovery Penalty Payment Information

  1. IRC § 6103(e)(9), Disclosure of certain information where more than one person subject to penalty under section 6672, provides for disclosure to one person who has been assessed the trust fund recovery penalty (TFRP) pursuant to IRC 6672, certain limited information regarding other persons assessed the penalty for the same underlying tax. IRC 6103(e)(9) requires:

    1. Disclosure shall be made in written form upon receipt of a proper written request from a person who has been assessed the penalty or their duly authorized representative.

    2. Disclosure will be limited to the specific tax period associated with the requestor's TFRP.

IRC § 6103(e)(9) Disclosure Procedures

  1. The Taxpayer Bill of Rights 2 provides the IRS with authority to establish procedures controlling the frequency with which any requester can make requests pursuant to IRC § 6103(e)(9). Until such procedures are developed at a national level, Service personnel should follow locally developed procedures. See paragraph (8) of IRM 11.3.2.4.13, Disclosure to Persons with a Material Interest, Trust Fund Recovery Penalties.

  2. Follow any locally developed procedures relative to controlling the frequency with which any requester can make requests pursuant to IRC § 6103(e)(9).

  3. Do not refer a TFRP disclosure to the Office of Disclosure when you can process it under IRC § 6103(e)(9) (i.e., the request meets IRC § 6103(e)(9) and the taxpayer is not making a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) or a Privacy Act request).

  4. Refer to the following IRMs, as needed:

    • See IRM 11.3.40, Disclosures Involving Trust Fund Recovery Penalty Assessments, for the general rules for disclosure of TFRP information.

    • See IRM 5.7, Trust Fund Compliance.

Guidelines for TFRP Disclosure

  1. Make an IRC § 6103(e)(9) disclosure:

    • in writing, and

    • only upon receipt of a proper written request from a person who has been assessed the penalty or their duly authorized representative.

  2. Limit any disclosure to the specific tax period(s) associated with the assessed requestor's TFRP.

    Reminder:

    Not all responsible officers receiving the penalty are assessed for the same periods.

  3. Follow these guidelines for determining whether you may make a disclosure pursuant to IRC § 6103(e)(9)

    Permissible TFRP Disclosures Prohibited TFRP Disclosures
    The name(s) of any other person(s) determined to be liable for the TFRP. The location or telephone number of the liable person(s).
    Whether the Service has attempted to collect the TFRP from any other liable person(s). Information about any individual whom the Service did not assess.
    The current collection status of any other liable person(s) (e.g., notice, BAL DUE, installment agreement, suspended, and if suspended, the reason). Any employment, income, or asset information about the liable person(s).
    The amount, if any, collected from each individual assessed the TFRP. The income level at which a currently not collectible account will be reactivated.
  4. Contact the Disclosure Help Desk for help when questions arise concerning the disclosure of TFRP information under IRC § 6103(e)(9). Contact information for the Disclosure Help Desk can be located by clicking on the Disclosure link under the Technical Tools & Administrative Sites section on the IRS Source homepage.

  5. Advise the taxpayer or the taxpayer’s authorized representative to make a FOIA request or a Privacy Act request if he/she desires further information.

Information Submitted by a Liable Person

  1. Accept and process any information, as appropriate, received from one responsible party who reports he/she believes there are unexplored sources of collection from other parties.

  2. Do not inform the other liable parties of the results, other than as discussed above.

Disclosure of Informant Claims

  1. An informant claim is a claim wherein the information that led to the development of the case was supplied by a whistleblower. A whistleblower is an individual who notices a significant Federal tax issue(s) in his/her workplace, while conducting day-to-day personal business, or anywhere else a tax issue(s) may be encountered, and reports the tax issue(s) to the IRS to help the IRS uncover tax cheating.

  2. The Service will not disclose the fact that a case is based on an informant claim, nor will the Service disclose the identity of the informant.

  3. See IRM 25.2, Information and Whistleblower Awards, for further information.

  4. Take the following actions when the taxpayer or the authorized representative asks for the source of the information that led to the issuance of the case.

    1. Do not disclose the identity of an informant under any circumstances.

    2. Inform the taxpayer you will have to get back to him/her with that information.

  5. Contact the Disclosure Help Desk immediately to determine how to respond to the taxpayer when a taxpayer (or the taxpayer's authorized representative) requests the source of the case. Contact information for the Disclosure Help Desk can be located by clicking on the Disclosure link under the Technical Tools & Administrative Sites section on the IRS Source homepage.

    Note:

    Disclosure will advise you of an appropriate response for you to provide.

  6. Respond to the taxpayer or the authorized representative only after consulting with Disclosure.

Disclosure of Case Files

  1. A taxpayer or taxpayer’s authorized representative has a right to information used to collect his/her tax liability, which includes a copy of the case file. The legal basis for giving taxpayers copies of their own tax records is contained in IRC § 6103(e). This section says the Service shall give taxpayers access to their returns upon written request. It also says the Service may provide copies of return information unless the Secretary determines release would seriously impair tax administration.

  2. IRC § 6103(e)(7) allows the IRS to withhold return information if that release would impair tax administration.

    1. If you are asked to provide copies of your case file, ensure the person requesting access has a legal right to the information.

    2. When you are satisfied they can have copies, review the information prior to release to determine that release of the information would not seriously impair tax administration.

  3. Impairment determinations should not be so narrowly construed to prevent the release of all information. Approval authority for determinations is delegated to the supervisory level personnel. If you have any concerns about whether to release something in the file, contact Disclosure for assistance.

  4. Questions to consider when making an impairment determination:

    1. Does the file contain any informant information? If so, do not release it.

    2. Is there any sensitive information that could reveal the nature, scope or direction of your investigation?

      Example:

      Notes regarding a plan of action to seize taxpayer assets or a possible fraud determination.

    3. Does the file contain third party tax information? If so, do not release it.

  5. Many taxpayers and authorized representatives involved in a collection proceeding request copies of their IMF Specific or Complete transcripts. These records are not available through the Form 4506–T request process or the Transcript Delivery System (TDS). These records may be released, but take caution to carefully review the entity portion of the document. Ensure that the taxpayer’s Social Security Number or Employer Identification Number are redacted prior to providing to the taxpayer and/or their authorized representative. Watch for changes in marital status; for example, re-marriage, divorce, or separation. Further information can be found at https://portal.ds.irsnet.gov/sites/vl003/lists/responddirectly/collection%20files.aspx.

  6. Summoned documents and/or third party contact information is return information. Such information can be withheld if the Service determines that such release would:

    1. Jeopardize the collection of any tax,

    2. Involve reprisal against any person, or

    3. Jeopardize any pending criminal investigation.

  7. Every consideration should be given to releasing the records requested. If you determine that requested information cannot be released, make sure that determination is made so as to withhold only the narrowest range of information possible. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) or Privacy Act request process is available when a requester isn’t satisfied with a denial of access and no resolution can be reached with managerial involvement. Helpful information to aid the requester in submitting a formal FOIA request and other information about the FOIA process are available at https://www.irs.gov/privacy-disclosure/freedom-of-information-act-foia-guidelines.

Oral Disclosure

  1. Treasury Regulation 26 CFR §301.6103(c)-1(c) authorizes the IRS to accept non-written requests or consents authorizing the disclosure of return information to third parties assisting taxpayers in resolving Federal tax related matters. Such a request is an "Oral Disclosure Consent."

    1. Only the taxpayer or his/her authorized representative (who has been previously given the authority by a Power of Attorney specifically to appoint other designees) can give an "Oral Disclosure Consent."

    2. An "Oral Disclosure Consent" may be taken from a taxpayer, or his/her authorized representative, who has open account issues or to whom some type of notice has been issued from IRS.

    3. The "Oral Disclosure Consent" expires when the account issue is closed.

    4. An "Oral Disclosure Consent" can only be made to a third party helping a taxpayer resolve a Federal tax matter.

  2. The "Oral Disclosure Consent" provision applies to an "Oral Disclosure Consent" received by:

    1. the Internal Revenue Service,

    2. an agent or contractor of the IRS, or

    3. a Federal government agency performing a Federal tax administration function in connection with a request for advice or assistance relating to such function.

  3. The "Oral Disclosure Consent" provision:

    1. Does not apply to disclosures to a taxpayer's authorized representative in connection with practice before the Internal Revenue Service

      Note:

      Disclosures in connection with practice before the IRS are described in Treasury Department Circular No. 230 (31 CFR Subtitle A, Part 10), Regulations Governing Practice before the Internal Revenue Service.

    2. Is significant for hearing impaired or non-English speaking taxpayers who may contact you through a relay operator or other third person.

  4. Do not make oral disclosure unless you receive an "Oral Disclosure Consent."

  5. The requirements for non-written requests are specified in Treasury Regs. 301.6103(c)-1(c)(2) which state that the Service must obtain from the taxpayer sufficient facts underlying the request for information or assistance to enable the Service to determine the nature and extent of the information or assistance requested and the return or return information to be disclosed in order to comply with the taxpayer’s request, confirm the identity of the taxpayer and the designee, and confirm the date, the nature, and the extent of the information or assistance requested.

  6. Complete the same disclosure verification as if you were talking directly to the taxpayer.

  7. Limit the disclosure of return information to the information covered in the "Oral Disclosure Consent."

  8. Record an "Oral Disclosure Consent" as directed in IRM 21.1.3.3.2, Oral Disclosure Consent/Oral TIA (Paperless F8821).