Adopted in 1976, 26 U.S.C. §6103 prohibits the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from disclosing tax returns and “return information” absent specified exceptions. The statute was initially enacted in response to widespread concern over the misuse of tax filings to pursue political vendettas, but more recently has drawn attention as a battleground over efforts to obtain copies of former President Trump’s tax returns. See J. Temkin, “Confidentiality of Tax Returns, Congressional Authority and the President”, N.Y.L.J. (Sept. 19, 2019).
Although the Supreme Court ultimately put an end to the Trump tax return saga, §6103 has remained in the news. This past September, Hunter Biden sued the IRS for civil damages claiming that two agents shared confidential information in media interviews and testimony before Congress without authorization. In October, an IRS contractor, Charles Littlejohn, pleaded guilty to a felony in connection with his disclosure of information from tax returns filed by former President Trump and thousands of wealthy individuals.