November 15, 2018 Articles

Be Aware of 26 U.S.C. § 7216: You May, to Your Surprise, Be a Tax Return Preparer

If you are an attorney who practices in the criminal tax area, be aware of 26 U.S.C. § 7216, which makes it a crime for a tax return preparer to make unauthorized use or disclosures of a taxpayer’s tax return information.

By Caroline Rule

Under 26 U.S.C. § 7216, it is a federal crime—a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine—for a tax return preparer to knowingly or recklessly disclose any taxpayer client’s tax return information furnished in connection with tax return preparation, or to use any such information for any purpose other than preparing or assisting in preparing a tax return. There are also civil penalties, which do not depend on knowing or reckless behavior, set forth in 26 U.S.C. § 6713: a fine of $250 for each prohibited disclosure or use, up to $10,000 total per calendar year.

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