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Criminal Resource Manual

501. Access to and Disclosure of Tax Returns in a Non-Tax Criminal Case

Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. § 6103) is designed to protect the confidentiality of tax returns and return information and establishes criteria for the disclosure of such material by the Internal Revenue Service and its use and further disclosure by the beneficiaries of disclosure. See this Manual at 502 and 503. Since January 1, 1977, disclosure of returns and return information has been prohibited except as specifically provided in 26 U.S.C. § 6103, as amended, or other sections of the Code. Disclosure in violation of these provisions subjects the offender to possible criminal penalties.

Among the disclosures authorized by the Act are those in 26 U.S.C. § 6103(i) concerning access to returns and return information by certain Department of Justice personnel for use in the investigation and prosecution of federal criminal statutory violations and related civil forfeitures not involving tax administration. The access procedures and use restrictions in such a case are set forth in this Manual at 505 et seq.

[cited in USAM 9-13.900]