Access to Returns and Return Information
Section 6103(i) of Title 26 of the United States Code sets forth the
conditions which govern IRS's disclosure of tax returns and return
protected under 26 U.S.C. § 6103(a) for use in proceedings pertaining
either the enforcement of a federal criminal statute, or related civil
proceedings which may be pursued in addition to or in lieu of criminal
prosecutions. The methods which must be used to obtain IRS's disclosure
according to the type of material sought and reason for its disclosure.|
Disclosure of tax returns and taxpayer return information must be
through the issuance of an ex parte order by a federal district judge or
magistrate judge under 26 U.S.C. § 6103(i)(1). See this Manual at 506. Such orders automatically
return information other than taxpayer return information, i.e., information
about a taxpayer from a third party. Thus, when filing an application under
U.S.C. § 6103(i)(1), it is not necessary to make a separate request
U.S.C. § 6103(i)(2) (as discussed at 507).
If, however, only return information other than taxpayer return
is sought, it may be obtained pursuant to a written request under 26 U.S.C.
6103(i)(2). See this Manual at 507.
Section 6103(i)(3) of Title 26 authorizes IRS to make disclosures of
information other than taxpayer return information on its own initiative
certain conditions, and any return information under other, more restrictive
conditions. See this Manual at 508.
Section 6103(i)(4) of Title 26 governs the use of information obtained
26 U.S.C. § 6103(i)(1), (i)(2), or (i)(3) in judicial or administrative
proceedings. See this Manual at 509.
should be noted, however, that, although 26 U.S.C. § 6103(i)(4)
use in civil forfeitures related to the enforcement of federal criminal
this use alone does not authorize disclosure under 26 U.S.C. §
(i)(2). Thus, caution should be exercised that any returns or return
needed for a civil forfeiture are obtained under the appropriate procedure
termination of the criminal enforcement proceeding. Criminal enforcement
proceedings should not be initiated, however, solely as a means of obtaining
return information which would otherwise not be available for use in a civil
Section 6103(i)(5) of Title 26 governs the disclosure of a return or
information for the purpose of locating a fugitive from justice. See
Manual at 510.
Section 6103(i)(6) of Title 26 provides that the Secretary shall not
any return or return information under the specified paragraphs and
of 26 U.S.C. § 6103(i) if he/she determines "that such disclosure would
identify a confidential informant or seriously impair a civil or criminal
The Internal Revenue Service has offered the services of the local
Disclosure Officer to each United States Attorney for the purpose of
United States Attorney and his/her assistants on the procedures to be
in obtaining returns and return information under the revised statute. Each
United States Attorney is urged to respond to this offer. IRS is anxious to
cooperate in successfully implementing the statute, and close coordination
between individual United States Attorneys' offices and the local District
Disclosure Officer will expedite the processing of requests.
In addition, the Criminal Division, through its Office of Enforcement
Operations, will be available to lend assistance and answer questions.
Contact information and a Tax Disclosure Form can be found in the
Criminal Resource Manual at 537.
Criminal Resource Manual 501;
Criminal Resource Manual 513]
[updated October 2008]