The Right to Confidentiality: Taxpayer Bill of Rights #8

IRS Tax Tip 2018-54, April 9, 2018

When dealing with the IRS, taxpayers have the right to confidentiality. As with all ten rights outlined in the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, the IRS takes this right seriously.

Taxpayers can expect that any information they provide to the IRS will not be disclosed to outside parties, 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.

Here are some more things that taxpayers can expect when it comes to the right to confidentiality:

  • In general, the IRS may not disclose a taxpayer’s tax information to third parties, unless those taxpayers give the agency permission. Examples of when a taxpayer requests that the IRS discloses this information could be regarding a mortgage or student loan application.
  • In general, the IRS cannot contact third parties, such as a taxpayer’s employer, neighbor, or bank, to get information about a taxpayer unless it provides the taxpayer with reasonable notice before making the contact.
  • When dealing with a federally authorized tax practitioner, taxpayers can expect the same confidentiality protection that they would have with an attorney.
  • Here are a couple of examples of communications with a practitioner that are considered confidential:
    • The preparer advises the taxpayer about their dealings with the IRS.
    • Issues related to noncriminal tax matters before the IRS.
  • A tax preparer cannot disclose or use someone’s tax information for any reason other than for tax return preparation. A preparer who does this may be subject to criminal fines and prison.

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