Taxpayer Bill of Rights 8: The Right to Confidentiality

The Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TBOR) is a cornerstone document that highlights the 10 fundamental rights taxpayers have when dealing with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS wants every taxpayer to be aware of these rights in the event they need to work with the IRS on a personal tax matter. The IRS continues to publicly highlight these rights to taxpayers. The IRS also regularly reminds its employees about these rights. The IRS expects employees to understand and apply taxpayer rights throughout every encounter with taxpayers.

IRS Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer, includes a full list of taxpayers’ rights.

It includes The Right to Confidentiality.

Taxpayers have the right to expect that any information they provide to the IRS will not be disclosed unless authorized by the taxpayer or by law. 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.

What you can expect:

  • In general, the IRS may not disclose your tax information to third parties unless you give us permission. (Example: You request that we disclose information for a mortgage or student loan application.)
  • In general, the IRS can’t contact third parties such as your employer, neighbors or bank, to get information to adjust or collect the tax you owe unless it gives you reasonable notice in advance.
  • Generally, the same confidentiality protection that you have with an attorney also applies to certain communications with someone who is authorized to practice before the IRS, such as a certified public accountant or enrolled agent. Confidential communications are those that:
    • Advise you on tax matters (other than tax return preparation) within the scope of the practitioner's authority to practice before the IRS,
    • Would be confidential between an attorney and you, and
    • Relate to noncriminal tax matters before the IRS, or
    • Relate to noncriminal tax proceedings brought in federal court by or against the United States.

If tax preparers knowingly or recklessly disclose or use your tax information for any reason other than for tax return preparation, they may face criminal fines and prison.

To find out more about the TBOR and what it means to you visit the Taxpayer Advocate Service’s website.

By making this important publication available in multiple languages, the IRS hopes to increase the number of Americans who know and understand their rights under the tax law. The IRS has more tax information in other languages too. See the “Languages” menu at the bottom of any page.

The IRS also is committed to protecting taxpayers’ civil rights. The IRS will not tolerate discrimination based on age, color, disability, race, reprisal, national origin, English proficiency, religion, sex, sexual orientation or status as a parent. This includes any contact with IRS employees and the staff or volunteers at community sites.

If a taxpayer faces discrimination, they can send a written complaint PDF to the IRS Civil Rights Division.

Additional IRS Resources

IRS Publication 1