Note: The following is an excerpt from the introduction to the article as published in The Tax Lawyer. Author citations have been omitted for brevity. Tax Section members may read the article in its entirety in Adobe Acrobat format.
The Protection of Taxpayer's Federal Tax Return Information in the Internet Age—Is Tax Return Information Being Afforded Proper Confidentiality and Privacy Protections?
The Service and taxpayers disclose federal tax return information (FTI) in a variety of ways. Furthermore, the disclosure of a taxpayer’s FTI often occurs through a number of different mediums. For example, the Service may disclose FTI through telephone conversations or email communications with the taxpayer. Service field offices and divisions may also disseminate a taxpayer’s FTI through various Internet networks. Alternatively, taxpayers may also disclose their FTI by filing records with the Tax Court. Given the personal nature of FTI and the different mediums that presently are utilized for its disclosure, sufficient safeguards must be adopted to provide a taxpayer’s FTI complete confidentiality and privacy. This Article discusses disclosures of FTI that the Service is permitted to make to third parties and whether such disclosures are made in a manner that affords a taxpayer’s FTI proper confidentiality and privacy protections. This Article also discusses some of the recent amendments made to the Tax Court’s Rules of Practice and Procedure to extend privacy protections to Tax Court filings.
*Agnes Gesiko is a transactional tax and business lawyer. She received her LL.M. in taxation from New York University School of Law, her J.D. from the University of San Diego School of Law (cum laude, Order of the Coif), and her B.A. in accountancy from the University of San Diego (summa cum laude).