All taxpayers have the right to confidentiality

Notice: Historical Content

This is an archival or historical document and may not reflect current law, policies or procedures.

IRS Tax Tip 2020-104, August 18, 2020

Information a taxpayer gives the IRS won't be shared with outside parties, unless allowed by the taxpayer or by law. This is the right to confidentiality; one of ten rights known collectively as the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

The right to confidentiality means:

  • The IRS won't give any information to a third party without permission from the taxpayer.
  • The agency can't contact third parties such as an employer or bank for information unless they give the taxpayer reasonable notice first.
  • The same confidentiality a taxpayer has with an attorney also applies to tax professionals working with the IRS on the taxpayer's behalf.
  • Taxpayers have the right to expect appropriate action will be taken against employees, return preparers and others who wrongfully use or disclose taxpayer return information.

Confidential communications include conversations, messages, documents and info that:

  • Fall within the tax professional's authority to practice before the IRS, but it doesn't include tax return preparation.
  • Are considered private or restricted between the taxpayer and their attorney.
  • Relate to noncriminal tax matters with the IRS or noncriminal tax cases in federal court.

Tax professionals can't share or use tax information for any reason other than preparing a return.

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