Unauthorized Disclosure of Taxpayer Return or Return Information (I.R.C. Sections 6103 and 7431)


The Internal Revenue Code (IRC) provides for the confidentiality of tax return and return information of taxpayers. In general, employees and officers of the federal government, certain employees and officers of states or state and local agencies, and other persons with access to such returns or return information are required to keep tax return and return information confidential unless authorized by the IRC. The IRC also provides for recourse for the taxpayer and provides that a taxpayer can bring a civil action against the U.S. for the unauthorized inspection or disclosure of return and return information by an employee of the U.S. This practice note discusses the unauthorized disclosure of tax return and return information, the exceptions to the confidentiality rule, and the governing provisions of I.R.C. Section 6103. In addition, this practice note also discusses the taxpayer relief provided under I.R.C. Section 7431 when there is an unauthorized disclosure.