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Criminal Resource Manual

515. Requests for Disclosure of Tax Returns and Return Information From the IRS Not Relating to Tax Administration

United States Attorneys may have occasion to seek access to tax information (returns and return information) for use in non-tax criminal matters. Title 26, United States Code, Section 6103(i)(1) provides for tax information to be obtained upon the grant of an ex parte order by a Federal district court judge or magistrate judge for use in criminal investigations. (26 U.S.C. § 6103(i)(5) similarly provides for disclosure of tax information exclusively for use in locating fugitives.) In addition, 26 U.S.C. §  6103(i)(2) provides for return information, other than taxpayer return information, to be obtained by a written request signed by a United States Attorney or other person so specified.


1. Upon determination that tax information is needed, regardless of the address of the subject, provide the name, address, and social security number of the subject and the taxable periods for which information is sought to the Internal Revenue Service by calling the local Internal Revenue Service Disclosure Officer.

2. Prepare written request (to be used for disclosure of information obtained by third parties only) or Application for Ex Parte Court Order, along with the Authorization, Verification and Order (to be used to obtain information obtained by third parties, as well as, taxpayers and their representatives) as specified in this Manual.

3. Mail written request or a copy of the application and unsigned court order to the attention of the Disclosure Officer at the local Internal Revenue Service District Director's Office.

4. Once a certified copy of the signed court order is obtained, mail to the local Disclosure Officer referenced in No. 3 above.

5. When dealing with multiple tax returns, either concerning a single or multiple entities, file a single order as opposed to multiple orders. For example, if you are seeking returns and return information for John and Jane Doe and numerous business entities with which they are associated, a single order identifying the information sought for each entity is preferable over having an individual order for each entity. This is true even where different documents are sought for different years on each entity. You need only identify the years and documents for each entity on the single order.

6. When obtaining State tax returns, you can write or call the appropriate State Department of Revenue or Taxation.