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Chris Rizek Comments on IRS Transparency

September 23, 2015, Bloomberg's Daily Tax Report

At a recent panel discussion, Caplin & Drysdale's Christopher S. Rizek commented on the IRS' commitment to transparency and providing meaningful information to taxpayers—while at the same time protecting taxpayer confidentiality.  For the full story, please visit Bloomberg's website (subscription required).

Excerpt taken from the article.

Panelist Christopher Rizek, a member of Caplin & Drysdale, said the tension between transparency and confidentiality is an extraordinarily difficult problem to solve. "Unless we go all the way one way or the other way, we're always going to have fights over these two principles," he said.

. . .

Committed to FOIA Compliance

In response to Rizek's comment that the FOIA process is "seriously broken," Tonuzi said the IRS is "committed to full compliance with FOIA," while at the same time it is struggling to cope with the sheer number of requests it gets, and the fact that some are overbroad or vague.

Last year, she said, the IRS got more than 10,000 requests for data under the act, and ended up litigating only about 25 of those cases. Some taxpayers are using FOIA requests as a way to try to get records in advance of litigation—not the way FOIA should be used, Tonuzi said.

Although she said the IRS goes to great lengths to protect taxpayer information, Rizek said he was "flabbergasted" at the amount of authorized disclosures the agency has made.

Taxpayer Advocate Cites Concerns

. . .

Both she and Rizek separately criticized the IRS's recent practice of issuing guidance in the form of frequently asked questions and answers, with both citing difficulties in determining what changes have been made and when they have been made.

. . .

Rizek said there has been a drop in formal guidance from the IRS and an increase in informal guidance. He said it is worth examining whether IRS is making these choices in part outside of the issue of resource constraints.


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