NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

IRS Uncompliant with Freedom of Information Act

October 9, 2015

The Internal Revenue Service (IRA) is responsible under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Privacy Act of 1975 and the Internal Revenue Code Section 6103 to respond to information requests from taxpayers, process requests in a timely manner, and guard against incorrect releasing sensitive taxpayer information. However,

  • The Office of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) found that 12.3 percent of the requests the IRS had improperly withheld information.
  • The number of backlogged information request cases increased for the second year in a row, but overall the responses to FOIA/Privacy Act information requests were handled in a timely manner.
  • In 4.6 percent of information requests, IRA disclosure specialists disclosed sensitive taxpayer information mistakenly.

Recommendations from the TIGTA included the development and implementation of a plan to review information requests for quality, in addition to a new protocol for timeliness regarding information requests and implementation of new procedures for processing requests to decreases the amount of backlogged cases. The IRS agreed in part to the recommendation to periodically review the quality of information requests and plans to implement appropriate corrective actions to address the other concerns. 

Source: "Fiscal Year 2015 Statutory Review of Compliance With the Freedom of Information Act," Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, September 18, 2015.

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