The newest victims of IRS incompetence are those requesting information under the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act, according to a new report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA.) The report revealed that the IRS is still rife with issues, including accidentally releasing confidential information and refusing to provide requested information.
As part of TIGTA’s recurring audits, the group seeks to ensure that the rights of taxpayers are protected. The reports both identify ongoing issues with the IRS’s interaction with information requesters, as well as making recommendations to the group, which are included in TIGTA’s semiannual reports to Congress.
This latest release specifically evaluated Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Act information requests, as well as those under IRC Section 6103. The results were the cherry on top of an objectively horrid year for the IRS, which included issues with non-profits, Congress, and now the taxpayers themselves.
In over 11% of surveyed Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Act cases, “taxpayer rights may have been violated because the IRS improperly withheld or failed to adequately search for and provide information to the requestors.” Whether this was due to missing hard drives or not still remains to be answered.
More concerning, 21% of FOIA/Privacy Act information requests “inadvertently” contained sensitive taxpayer information. This number was up from last year’s 16%.
When it comes to Internal Revenue Code Section 6103, which deals with “confidentiality and disclosure of returns and return information,” the IRS’s grade was equally dismal. 15% of information requests under this category were also missing information that the IRS had failed to sufficiently search for and provide.
All of these revelations fly in the face of the IRS’s “Taxpayer Bill of Rights,” which includes among its points, “privacy,” “confidentiality,” and “quality service.” Maybe their code should be rewritten to include the taxpayer’s right to shoddy information and released sensitive information.