- 7.28.4 Public Inspection of Written Determinations Under IRC 6110
- 18.104.22.168 General Disclosure Background
- 22.214.171.124.1 IRC 6110 Background
- 126.96.36.199 Definitions
- 188.8.131.52 General Guidelines for Drafting Letters Subject to IRC 6110
- 184.108.40.206 General Guidelines for IRC 6110 Deletions (Redaction)
- 220.127.116.11 Submitting IRC 6110 Determination Letters for Disclosure - Reviewer Procedures
- 18.104.22.168 Public Requests for Redacted Background File Documents
Part 7. Rulings and Agreements
Chapter 28. Exempt Organizations Disclosure Procedures
Section 4. Public Inspection of Written Determinations Under IRC 6110
September 22, 2015
(1) This transmits revised IRM 7.28.4, Exempt Organizations Disclosure Procedures, Public Inspection of Written Determinations Under IRC 6110.
(1) Substantially reorganized and revised IRM to remove procedures and other information contained in other IRMs including IRM 22.214.171.124, Procedures for Determinations Specialists, and IRM 126.96.36.199, Procedures for Quality Assurance.
(2) Removed Exhibits 7.28.4-1 and 7.28.4-2, checklists for written determinations under IRC 6110.
(3) Added examples of materials to be deleted from EO determination letters.
(4) Made editorial changes throughout document.
Tamera L. Ripperda
Director, Exempt Organizations
Tax Exempt and Government Entities
IRC 6103 provides the general rules for returns and return information confidentiality. Absent other specific Code disclosure authorization, returns and return information are confidential. Officers and employees of the U.S. are prohibited from disclosing returns or return information (IRC 6103(a)).
IRC 6103 itself contains exceptions to the rule that returns and return information are confidential. There are also two major statutory exceptions that govern the public disclosure of Exempt Organizations (EO) return information:
IRC 6104 lists specific rules for the disclosure of EO applications, rulings, determinations, and returns.
IRC 6110 lists special disclosure rules and procedures for certain categories of rulings, determinations, technical advice memorandums, and Chief Counsel advice.
This IRM section contains guidance on IRC 6110. For general disclosure information, refer to IRM 11.3.9, Disclosure of Official Information – Exempt Organizations, and the Governmental Liaison, Disclosure and Safeguards website, http://discl.web.irs.gov/GLD.asp.
The IRS must release for public inspection the text of written determinations and make any background file documents available for public inspection (IRC 6110 special disclosure rules).
Certain information, including identifying details, pertaining to written determinations and background file documents must be deleted (redacted) (IRC 6110(c)).
On December 2, 2003, the D.C. Circuit ruled in Tax Analysts v. Internal Revenue Service, 350 F.3d 100 (D.C. Cir. 2003), that ruling letters issued by the Exempt Organizations division are written determinations as defined in IRC 6110(b)(2).
A "written determination" means a ruling, determination letter, technical advice memorandum, or Chief Counsel advice.
A "background file document" for a written determination includes:
The request for that written determination
Any material submitted in support of the request
Any communication between the IRS and persons outside the IRS connected to that written determination
The following types of determination letters issued by EO Rulings and Agreements are subject to the provisions of IRC 6110:
Proposed and final denial of exemption
Advance approval of grant making procedures described in IRC 4945(g)
Advance approval of certain set-asides described in IRC 4942(g)(2)
Advance approval of voter registration activities described in IRC 4945(f)
Advance approval of an unusual grant per Rev. Proc. 81-7
Any additional type of determination letter per Rev. Proc. 2015-4 (updated annually)
Closed EO Determinations cases with letters subject to IRC 6110 are designated for mandatory review by EO Determinations Quality Assurance (EODQA). See IRM 7.20.5, Review Procedures for EO Determinations.
See IRM 7.20.2, Determination Letter Processing for Exempt Organizations, and IRM 7.20.3, Processing Foundation Classification and Miscellaneous Requests, for case processing procedures and additional information for cases subject to IRC 6110.
See IRM 7.20.5, Review Procedures for EO Determinations, for general EODQA case processing procedures and additional information on IRC 6110.
Create a legend on the first page of the letter to define substitutions of identifying information (see IRM 188.8.131.52, General Guidelines for IRC 6110 Deletions (Redaction) for guidelines on what is considered "identifying information" ). Generally:
Use capital letters to represent names of individuals, corporations, places, and businesses.
Use lower case letters to represent certain numbers and, when used with dollars, to represent sums of money.
Add a generic descriptor for each legend item on the redacted copy of the letter.
Use specific dates only when it’s important to the issue analysis and ultimate conclusion. Or reference a general time frame as a substitute for an actual date.
Replace identifying information in the letter text with the legend item.
Insert the Uniform Issue List (UIL) index number on the first page of the letter.
Record third party communications (as described in 26 CFR 301.6110-4) in the case chronology record and on the front page of the determination letter.
Record any communication (whether written, by telephone, at a meeting, or otherwise) the IRS received prior to issuing a written determination from any person other than the organization to which the determination pertains or that organization’s authorized representative.
Note all contacts that qualify as third-party communications under 26 CFR 301.6110-4 on the front page of the written determination. Enter the contact date and the category of the person making the contact in the heading of the letter.
Contact categories may include Congressional, Department of Commerce, Department of Treasury, Trade Association, White House, Educational Institution, etc.
Use consistent citation formatting throughout the letter.
Review the letter template for any citations. Continue to use any template citation format throughout the rest of the letter.
Use the following general citation formats if the published letter template doesn’t have any embedded citations:
For Use The first reference to the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) in the letter Section [Insert] of the Internal Revenue Code (the Code) Subsequent references to the IRC (first reference in a paragraph) Section [Insert] of the Code Additional references to the IRC in the same paragraph with prior references Section [Insert] The first reference to the Treasury Regulations Treasury Regulation Section [Insert] Subsequent references to the Treasury regulations Treas. Reg. Section [Insert]
Prepare text of letter in this order:
Application of Law
List tax law references in this order:
Internal Revenue Code
Revenue rulings and revenue procedures
List tax law references of the same category in numerical or date order, even if they are not referenced or discussed in that order in the rest of the letter.
Refer to these other general drafting guidelines:
Refer to the organization as "you" in the letter.
Don’t capitalize "federal" in "federal income tax."
Enclose quotations of 49 words or less in quotation marks; indent longer quotations on the left and right sides of the letter.
Ensure letter enclosures (e.g., Publication 892) are listed on the last page of the letter.
Before any written determination or background file document is made available for public inspection, certain information must be deleted (redacted). IRC 6110(c) provides a list of material to be redacted, including the following:
The names, addresses, and other identifying details of the person to whom the written determination pertains and of any other person, other than a person with respect to whom a notation is made under IRC 6110(d)(1), identified in the written determination or any background file document
Information specifically authorized under criteria established by an Executive Order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy, and which is in fact properly classified per such Executive Order
Information specifically exempted from disclosure by any statute (other than this title) which is applicable to the IRS
Trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential
Information the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy
Information contained in or related to examination, operating, or condition reports prepared by, or on behalf of, or for use of an agency responsible for the regulation or supervision of financial institutions
Geological and geophysical information and data, including maps, concerning wells
The most common deletions under IRC 6110 are the names, addresses, and other identifying details of all entities and individuals.
Consider deleting other identifying details from the determination letter such as:
Names of local IRS officers and employees
Authorized representatives (names of individuals and possibly firm names)
Organization/taxpayer location, including state of incorporation
Business location (city and state)
Dollar figures (don’t redact the $ sign)
Dates, including tax years
Percentages (don’t redact % symbol)
Type of business if unique or industry is small
Countries of operation
Region, district, city, circuit court
References to state law
References to unique federal law that impacts few industries or individuals
Court docket numbers
Outside consultants (names of individuals and possibly firm names)
References to another case involving the same taxpayer(s)
Patents and trademarks
Any quotations from an opinion or searchable database (e.g., SEC filings), if they are associated with the taxpayer
Extensions of time or general time frames
Any other information that could be cross-referenced in other publicly available sets of information including electronic databases
After an IRC 6110 determination letter issued by EO Determinations is final, the EODQA reviewer submits the letter to the Office of Chief Counsel, Disclosure and Litigation Support Branch for publication.
Review the letter to ensure all identifying information is removed from the redacted copy. (See also IRM 7.20.5, Review Procedures for EO Determinations.)
Complete Notice 437, Notice of Intention to Disclose (Rulings), and the Checklist for IRC 6110 Written Determinations.
Save an electronic copy of the letter and other documents using the EIN and a generic description of the letter (e.g., type of letter) or document.
Email the letters and forms to 6110.Disclosure@irscounsel.treas.gov. Type "IRC 6110 Package" in the subject line.
Upon specific written request, the public may receive a redacted copy of the background file documents for written determinations which have been released for public inspection. The Disclosure and Litigation Support Branch, Legal Processing Division, Office of the Associate Chief Counsel (Procedure and Administration) is responsible for processing this type of written request.
The Disclosure and Litigation Support Branch contacts EP/EO Determinations Processing Unit (Processing Unit) if it receives a written request for background file documents for a determination letter issued by Exempt Organizations Rulings and Agreements.
Locates a copy of the determination case file (hard copy, electronic copy, DVD, etc.).
Prints or copies the disclosable documents of the case file.
Redacts all identifying information.
Send redacted copy to EODQA for review of redaction.
Mail the redacted copy of the background file documents to:
Internal Revenue Service
Disclosure and Litigation Support Branch
PO Box 7604
Washington, DC 20044
Internal Revenue Service
Disclosure and Litigation Support Branch
1111 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20224