Tax Analysts provides news, analysis, and commentary on tax-related topics, including the latest developments in information disclosure. Information disclosure has become a significant issue under the Bank Secrecy Act’s requirement that foreign bank accounts to file foreign bank account reports (FBAR). ("News Analysis: Did You Really Mean to Hide Those Foreign Accounts?") Failure to satisfy the FBAR requirements can result in civil penalties for FBAR violations.
Information disclosure is also important under the offshore voluntary disclosure program (OVDP) ("Swiss Banks Avoid Fines by Persuading Clients to Disclose"). OVDP provides taxpayers with undisclosed income from offshore accounts an opportunity to get current with their tax returns by offering reduced penalties for the failure to include offshore income.
Taxpayers are also protected from disclosure of tax return information under section 6103, which generally prohibits release of tax information by an IRS employee. Exceptions to the general rule include disclosures to state agencies responsible for tax administration, to law enforcement agencies pursuant to a court order, to third parties to obtain information not otherwise reasonably available during the course of official tax administration investigations, and to the Social Security Administration. Section 6103 also provides for disclosures to powers of attorney and other designees.
Section 7213 imposes criminal penalties for the unauthorized disclosure of federal tax returns or return information by federal or state employees. Section 7216 provides criminal penalties for tax return preparers who improperly disclose tax return information. Under section 7431, taxpayers may bring civil actions in federal district courts for the improper disclosure of tax returns and tax return information.