About GPO   |   Newsroom/Media   |   Congressional Relations   |   Inspector General   |   Careers   |   Contact   |   askGPO   |   Help  
 
Home   |   Customers   |   Vendors   |   Libraries  

The Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (e-CFR) is a regularly updated, unofficial editorial compilation of CFR material and Federal Register amendments produced by the National Archives and Records Administration's Office of the Federal Register (OFR) and the Government Printing Office.

Parallel Table of Authorities and Rules for the Code of Federal Regulations and the United States Code
Text | PDF

Find, review, and submit comments on Federal rules that are open for comment and published in the Federal Register using Regulations.gov.

Purchase individual CFR titles from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore.

Find issues of the CFR (including issues prior to 1996) at a local Federal depository library.

[2]
 
 

Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

e-CFR Data is current as of July 29, 2014

Title 26: Internal Revenue
PART 301—PROCEDURE AND ADMINISTRATION
Crimes, Other Offenses, and Forfeitures


§301.7216-2   Permissible disclosures or uses without consent of the taxpayer.

(a) Disclosure pursuant to other provisions of the Internal Revenue Code. The provisions of section 7216(a) and §301.7216-1 shall not apply to any disclosure of tax return information if the disclosure is made pursuant to any other provision of the Internal Revenue Code or the regulations thereunder.

(b) Disclosures to the IRS. The provisions of section 7216(a) and §301.7216-1 shall not apply to any disclosure of tax return information to an officer or employee of the IRS.

(c) Disclosures or uses for preparation of a taxpayer's return—(1) Updating Taxpayers' Tax Return Preparation Software. If a tax return preparer provides software to a taxpayer that is used in connection with the preparation or filing of a tax return, the tax return preparer may use the taxpayer's tax return information to update the taxpayer's software for the purpose of addressing changes in IRS forms, e-file specifications and administrative, regulatory and legislative guidance or to test and ensure the software's technical capabilities without the taxpayer's consent under §301.7216-3.

(2) Tax return preparers located within the same firm in the United States. If a taxpayer furnishes tax return information to a tax return preparer located within the United States, including any territory or possession of the United States, an officer, employee, or member of a tax return preparer may use the tax return information, or disclose the tax return information to another officer, employee, or member of the same tax return preparer, for the purpose of performing services that assist in the preparation of, or assist in providing auxiliary services in connection with the preparation of, the taxpayer's tax return. If an officer, employee, or member to whom the tax return information is to be disclosed is located outside of the United States or any territory or possession of the United States, the taxpayer's consent under §301.7216-3 prior to any disclosure is required.

(3) Furnishing tax return information to tax return preparers located outside the United States. If a taxpayer initially furnishes tax return information to a tax return preparer located outside of the United States or any territory or possession of the United States, an officer, employee, or member of a tax return preparer may use tax return information, or disclose any tax return information to another officer, employee, or member of the same tax return preparer, for the purpose of performing services that assist in the preparation of, or assist in providing auxiliary services in connection with the preparation of, the tax return of a taxpayer by or for whom the information was furnished without the taxpayer's consent under §301.7216-3.

(4) Examples. The following examples illustrate this paragraph (c):

Example 1. Preparer P provides tax return preparation software to Taxpayer T for T to use in the preparation of its 2009 income tax return. For the 2009 tax year, and using T's tax return information furnished while registering for the software, P would like to update the tax return preparation software that T is using to account for last minute changes made to the tax laws for the 2009 tax year. P is not required to obtain T's consent to update the tax return preparation software. P may perform a software update regardless of whether the software update will affect T's particular return preparation activities.

Example 2. T is a client of Firm, which is a tax return preparer. E, an employee at Firm's State A office, receives tax return information from T for use in preparing T's income tax return. E discloses the tax return information to P, an employee in Firm's State B office; P uses the tax return information to process T's income tax return. Firm is not required to receive T's consent under §301.7216-3 prior to E's disclosure of T's tax return information to P because the tax return information is disclosed to an employee employed by the same tax return preparer located within the United States.

Example 3. Same facts as Example 2 except T's tax return information is disclosed to FE who is located in Firm's Country F office. FE uses the tax return information to process T's income tax return. After processing, FE returns the processed tax return information to E in Firm's State A office. Because FE is outside of the United States, Firm is required to obtain T's consent under §301.7216-3 prior to E's disclosure of T's tax return information to FE.

Example 4. T, Firm's client, is temporarily located in Country F. She initially furnishes her tax return information to employee FE in Firm's Country F office for the purpose of having Firm prepare her U.S. income tax return. FE makes the substantive determinations concerning T's tax liability and forwards T's tax return information to FP, an employee in Firm's Country P office, for the purpose of processing T's tax return information. FP processes the return information and forwards it to Partner at Firm's State A office in the United States for review and delivery to T. Because T initially furnished the tax return information to a tax return preparer outside of the United States, T's prior consent for disclosure or use under §301.7216-3 was not required. An officer, employee, or member of Firm in the United States may use T's tax return information or disclose the tax return information to another officer, employee, or member of Firm without T's prior consent under §301.7216-3 as long as any disclosure or use of T's tax return information is within the United States. Firm is required to receive T's consent under §301.7216-3 prior to any subsequent disclosure of T's tax return information to a tax return preparer located outside of the United States.

(d) Disclosures to other tax return preparers—(1) Preparer-to-preparer disclosures. Except as limited in paragraph (d)(2) of this section, an officer, employee, or member of a tax return preparer may disclose tax return information of a taxpayer to another tax return preparer (other than an officer, employee, or member of the same tax return preparer) located in the United States (including any territory or possession of the United States) for the purpose of preparing or assisting in preparing a tax return, or obtaining or providing auxiliary services in connection with the preparation of any tax return, so long as the services provided are not substantive determinations or advice affecting the tax liability reported by taxpayers. A substantive determination involves an analysis, interpretation, or application of the law. The authorized disclosures permitted under this paragraph (d)(1) include one tax return preparer disclosing tax return information to another tax return preparer for the purpose of having the second tax return preparer transfer that information to, and compute the tax liability on, a tax return of the taxpayer by means of electronic, mechanical, or other form of tax return processing service. The authorized disclosures permitted under this paragraph (d)(1) also include disclosures by a tax return preparer to an Authorized IRS e-file Provider for the purpose of electronically filing the return with the IRS. Authorized disclosures also include disclosures by a tax return preparer to a second tax return preparer for the purpose of making information concerning the return available to the taxpayer. This would include, for example, whether the return has been accepted or rejected by the IRS, or the status of the taxpayer's refund. Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, a tax return preparer may not disclose tax return information to another tax return preparer for the purpose of the second tax return preparer providing substantive determinations without first receiving the taxpayer's consent in accordance with the rules under §301.7216-3.

(2) Disclosures to contractors. A tax return preparer may disclose tax return information to a person under contract with the tax return preparer in connection with the programming, maintenance, repair, testing, or procurement of equipment or software used for purposes of tax return preparation only to the extent necessary for the person to provide the contracted services, and only if the tax return preparer ensures that all individuals who are to receive disclosures of tax return information receive a written notice that informs them of the applicability of sections 6713 and 7216 to them and describes the requirements and penalties of sections 6713 and 7216. Contractors receiving tax return information pursuant to this section are tax return preparers under section 7216 because they are performing auxiliary services in connection with tax return preparation. See §301.7216-1(b)(2)(i)(B) and (D).

(3) Examples. The following examples illustrate this paragraph (d):

Example 1. E, an employee at Firm's State A office, receives tax return information from T for Firm's use in preparing T's income tax return. E makes substantive determinations and forwards the tax return information to P, an employee at Processor; Processor is located in State B. P places the tax return information on the income tax return and furnishes the finished product to E. E is not required to receive T's prior consent under §301.7216-3 before disclosing T's tax return information to P because Processor's services are not substantive determinations and the tax return information remained in the United States at Processor's State B office during the entire course of the tax return preparation process.

Example 2. Firm, a tax return preparer, offers income tax return preparation services. Firm's contract with its software provider, Contractor, requires Firm to periodically randomly select certain taxpayers' tax return information solely for the purpose of testing the reliability of the software sold to Firm. Under its agreement with Contractor, Firm discloses tax return information to Contractor's employee, C, who services Firm's contract without providing Contractor or C with a written notice that describes the requirements of and penalties under sections 7216 and 6713. C uses the tax return information solely for quality assurance purposes. Firm's disclosure of tax return information to C was an impermissible disclosure because Firm failed to ensure that C received a written notice that describes the requirements and penalties of sections 7216 and 6713.

Example 3. E, an employee of Firm in State A in the United States, receives tax return information from T for use in preparing T's income tax return. After E enters T's tax return information into Firm's computer, that information is stored on a computer server that is physically located in State A. Firm contracts with Contractor, located in Country F, to prepare its clients' tax returns. FE, an employee of Contractor, uses a computer in Country F and inputs a password to view T's income tax information stored on the computer server in State A to prepare T's tax return. A computer program permits FE to view T's tax return information, but prohibits FE from downloading or printing out T's tax return information from the computer server. Because Firm is disclosing T's tax return information outside of the United States, Firm is required to obtain T's consent under §301.7216-3 prior to the disclosure to FE. As provided in §301.7216-3(b)(5), however, Firm may not obtain consent to disclose T's social security number (SSN) to a tax return preparer located outside of the United States or any territory or possession of the United States.

Example 4. A, an employee at Firm A, receives tax return information from T for Firm's use in preparing T's income tax return. A forwards the tax return information to B, an employee at another firm, Firm B, to obtain advice on the issue of whether T may claim a deduction for a certain business expense. A is required to receive T's prior consent under §301.7216-3 before disclosing T's tax return information to B because B's services involve a substantive determination affecting the tax liability that T will report.

(e) Disclosure or use of information in the case of related taxpayers. (1) In preparing a tax return of a second taxpayer, a tax return preparer may use, and may disclose to the second taxpayer in the form in which it appears on the return, any tax return information that the tax return preparer obtained from a first taxpayer if—

(i) The second taxpayer is related to the first taxpayer within the meaning of paragraph (e)(2) of this section;

(ii) The first taxpayer's tax interest in the information is not adverse to the second taxpayer's tax interest in the information; and

(iii) The first taxpayer has not expressly prohibited the disclosure or use.

(2) For purposes of paragraph (e)(1)(i) of this section, a taxpayer is related to another taxpayer if they have any one of the following relationships: Husband and wife, child and parent, grandchild and grandparent, partner and partnership, trust or estate and beneficiary, trust or estate and fiduciary, corporation and shareholder, or members of a controlled group of corporations as defined in section 1563.

(3) See §301.7216-3 for disclosure or use of tax return information of the taxpayer in preparing the tax return of a second taxpayer when the requirements of this paragraph are not satisfied.

(f) Disclosure pursuant to an order of a court, or an administrative order, demand, request, summons or subpoena which is issued in the performance of its duties by a Federal or State agency, the United States Congress, a professional association ethics committee or board, or the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. The provisions of section 7216(a) and §301.7216-1 will not apply to any disclosure of tax return information if the disclosure is made pursuant to any one of the following documents:

(1) The order of any court of record, Federal, State, or local.

(2) A subpoena issued by a grand jury, Federal or State.

(3) A subpoena issued by the United States Congress.

(4) An administrative order, demand, summons or subpoena that is issued in the performance of its duties by—

(i) Any Federal agency as defined in 5 U.S.C. 551(1) and 5 U.S.C. 552(f), or

(ii) A State agency, body, or commission charged under the laws of the State or a political subdivision of the State with the licensing, registration, or regulation of tax return preparers.

(5) A written request from a professional association ethics committee or board investigating the ethical conduct of the tax return preparer.

(6) A written request from the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board in connection with an inspection under section 104 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, 15 U.S.C. 7214, or an investigation under section 105 of such Act, 15 U.S.C. 7215, for use in accordance with such Act.

(g) Disclosure for use in securing legal advice, Treasury investigations or court proceedings. A tax return preparer may disclose tax return information—

(1) To an attorney for purposes of securing legal advice;

(2) To an employee of the Treasury Department for use in connection with any investigation of the tax return preparer (including investigations relating to the tax return preparer in its capacity as a practitioner) conducted by the IRS or the Treasury Department; or

(3) To any officer of a court for use in connection with proceedings involving the tax return preparer (including proceedings involving the tax return preparer in its capacity as a practitioner), or the return preparer's client, before the court or before any grand jury that may be convened by the court.

(h) Certain disclosures by attorneys and accountants. The provisions of section 7216(a) and §301.7216-1 shall not apply to any disclosure of tax return information permitted by this paragraph (h).

(1)(i) A tax return preparer who is lawfully engaged in the practice of law or accountancy and prepares a tax return for a taxpayer may use the taxpayer's tax return information, or disclose the information to another officer, employee or member of the tax return preparer's law or accounting firm, consistent with applicable legal and ethical responsibilities, who may use the tax return information for the purpose of providing other legal or accounting services to the taxpayer. As an example, a lawyer who prepares a tax return for a taxpayer may use the tax return information of the taxpayer for, or in connection with, rendering legal services, including estate planning or administration, or preparation of trial briefs or trust instruments, for the taxpayer or the estate of the taxpayer. In addition, the lawyer who prepared the tax return may disclose the tax return information to another officer, employee or member of the same firm for the purpose of providing other legal services to the taxpayer. As another example, an accountant who prepares a tax return for a taxpayer may use the tax return information, or disclose it to another officer, employee or member of the firm, for use in connection with the preparation of books and records, working papers, or accounting statements or reports for the taxpayer. In the normal course of rendering the legal or accounting services to the taxpayer, the attorney or accountant may make the tax return information available to third parties, including stockholders, management, suppliers, or lenders, consistent with the applicable legal and ethical responsibilities, unless the taxpayer directs otherwise. For rules regarding disclosures outside of the United States, see §301.7216-2(c) and (d).

(ii) A tax return preparer's law or accounting firm does not include any related or affiliated firms. For example, if law firm A is affiliated with law firm B, officers, employees and members of law firm A must receive a taxpayer's consent under §301.7216-3 before disclosing the taxpayer's tax return information to an officer, employee or member of law firm B.

(2) A tax return preparer who is lawfully engaged in the practice of law or accountancy and prepares a tax return for a taxpayer may, consistent with the applicable legal and ethical responsibilities, take the tax return information into account, and may act upon it, in the course of performing legal or accounting services for a client other than the taxpayer, or disclose the information to another officer, employee or member of the tax return preparer's law or accounting firm to enable that other officer, employee or member to take the information into account, and act upon it, in the course of performing legal or accounting services for a client other than the taxpayer. This is permissible when the information is, or may be, relevant to the subject matter of the legal or accounting services for the other client, and consideration of the information by those performing the services is necessary for the proper performance of the services. In no event, however, may the tax return information be disclosed to a person who is not an officer, employee or member of the law or accounting firm, unless the disclosure is exempt from the application of section 7216(a) and §301.7216-1 by reason of another provision of §§301.7216-2 or 301.7216-3.

(3) Examples. The application of this paragraph may be illustrated by the following examples:

Example 1. A, a member of an accounting firm, renders an opinion on a financial statement of M Corporation that is part of a registration statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. After the registration statement is filed, but before its effective date, B, a member of the same accounting firm, prepares an income tax return for N Corporation. In the course of preparing N's income tax return, B discovers that N does business with M and concludes that the information given by N should be considered by A to determine whether the financial statement opined on by A contains an untrue statement of material fact or omits a material fact required to keep the statement from being misleading. B discloses to A the tax return information of N for this purpose. A determines that there is an omission of material fact and that an amended statement should be filed. A so advises M and the Securities and Exchange Commission. A explains that the omission was revealed as a result of confidential information that came to A's attention after the statement was filed, but A does not disclose the identity of the taxpayer or the tax return information itself. Section 7216(a) and §301.7216-1 do not apply to B's disclosure of N's tax return information to A and A's use of the information in advising M and the Securities and Exchange Commission of the necessity for filing an amended statement. Section 7216(a) and §301.7216-1 would apply to a disclosure of N's tax return information to M or to the Securities and Exchange Commission unless the disclosure is exempt from the application of section 7216(a) and §301.7216-1 by reason of another provision of either this section or §301.7216-3.

Example 2. A, a member of an accounting firm, is conducting an audit of M Corporation, and B, a member of the same accounting firm, prepares an income tax return for D, an officer of M. In the course of preparing the return, B obtains information from D indicating that D, pursuant to an arrangement with a supplier doing business with M, has been receiving from the supplier a percentage of the amounts that the supplier invoices to M. B discloses this information to A who, acting upon it, searches in the course of the audit for indications of a kickback scheme. As a result, A discovers information from audit sources that independently indicate the existence of a kickback scheme. Without revealing the tax return information A has received from B, A brings to the attention of officers of M the audit information indicating the existence of the kickback scheme. Section 7216(a) and §301.7216-1 do not apply to B's disclosure of D's tax return information to A, A's use of D's information in the course of the audit, and A's disclosure to M of the audit information indicating the existence of the kickback scheme. Section 7216(a) and §301.7216-1 would apply to a disclosure to M, or to any other person not an employee or member of the accounting firm, of D's tax return information furnished to B.

(i) Corporate fiduciaries. A trust company, trust department of a bank, or other corporate fiduciary that prepares a tax return for a taxpayer for whom it renders fiduciary, investment, or other custodial or management services may, unless the taxpayer directs otherwise—

(1) Disclose or use the taxpayer's tax return information in the ordinary course of rendering such services to or for the taxpayer; or

(2) Make the information available to the taxpayer's attorney, accountant, or investment advisor.

(j) Disclosure to taxpayer's fiduciary. If, after furnishing tax return information to a tax return preparer, the taxpayer dies or becomes incompetent, insolvent, or bankrupt, or the taxpayer's assets are placed in conservatorship or receivership, the tax return preparer may disclose the information to the duly appointed fiduciary of the taxpayer or his estate, or to the duly authorized agent of the fiduciary.

(k) Disclosure or use of information in preparation or audit of State or local tax returns or assisting a taxpayer with foreign country tax obligations. The provisions of paragraphs (c) and (d) of this section shall apply to the disclosure by any tax return preparer of any tax return information in the preparation of, or in connection with the preparation of, any tax return of the taxpayer under the law of any State or political subdivision thereof, of the District of Columbia, of any territory or possession of the United States, or of a country other than the United States. The provisions of section 7216(a) and §301.7216-1 shall not apply to the use by any tax return preparer of any tax return information in the preparation of, or in connection with the preparation of, any tax return of the taxpayer under the law of any State or political subdivision thereof, of the District of Columbia, of any territory or possession of the United States, or of a country other than the United States. The provisions of section 7216(a) and §301.7216-1 shall not apply to the disclosure or use by any tax return preparer of any tax return information in the audit of, or in connection with the audit of, any tax return of the taxpayer under the law of any State or political subdivision thereof, the District of Columbia, or any territory or possession of the United States.

(l) Payment for tax preparation services. A tax return preparer may use and disclose, without the taxpayer's written consent, tax return information that the taxpayer provides to the tax return preparer to pay for tax preparation services to the extent necessary to process or collect the payment. For example, if the taxpayer gives the tax return preparer a credit card to pay for tax preparation services, the tax return preparer may disclose the taxpayer's name, credit card number, credit card expiration date, and amount due for tax preparation services to the credit card company, as necessary, to process the payment. Any tax return information that the taxpayer did not give the tax return preparer for the purpose of making payment for tax preparation services may not be used or disclosed by the tax return preparer without the taxpayer's prior written consent, unless otherwise permitted under another provision of this section.

(m) Retention of records. A tax return preparer may retain tax return information of a taxpayer, including copies of tax returns, in paper or electronic format, prepared on the basis of the tax return information, and may use the information in connection with the preparation of other tax returns of the taxpayer or in connection with an examination by the Internal Revenue Service of any tax return or subsequent tax litigation relating to the tax return. The provisions of paragraph (n) of this section regarding the transfer of a taxpayer list also apply to the transfer of any records and related papers to which this paragraph applies.

(n) Lists for solicitation of tax return preparation business. (1) A tax return preparer, other than a person who is a tax return preparer solely because the person provides auxiliary services as defined in §301.7216-1(b)(2)(iii), may compile and maintain a separate list containing solely items of tax return information. The following items of tax return information are permissible: The names, mailing addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, taxpayer entity classification (including “individual” or the specific type of business entity), and income tax return form number (for example, Form 1040-EZ) of taxpayers whose tax returns the tax return preparer has prepared or processed. The Internal Revenue Service may issue guidance, by publication in the Internal Revenue Bulletin (see §601.601(d)(2)(ii)(b) of this chapter), describing other types of information that may be included in a list compiled and maintained pursuant to this paragraph. This list may be used by the compiler solely to contact the taxpayers on the list for the purpose of providing tax information and general business or economic information or analysis for educational purposes, or soliciting additional tax return preparation services. The list may not be used to solicit any service or product other than tax return preparation services. The compiler of the list may not transfer the taxpayer list, or any part thereof, to any other person unless the transfer takes place in conjunction with the sale or other disposition of the compiler's tax return preparation business. Due diligence conducted prior to a proposed sale of a compiler's tax return preparation business is in conjunction with the sale or other disposition of a compiler's tax return preparation business and will not constitute a transfer of the list if conducted pursuant to a written agreement that requires confidentiality of the tax return information disclosed and expressly prohibits the further disclosure or use of the tax return information for any purpose other than that related to the purchase of the tax return preparation business. A person who acquires a taxpayer list, or a part thereof, in conjunction with a sale or other disposition of a tax return preparation business falls under the provisions of this paragraph with respect to the list. The term list, as used in this paragraph (n), includes any record or system whereby the types of information expressly authorized for inclusion in a taxpayer list pursuant to the terms of this paragraph (n) are retained. The provisions of this paragraph (n) also apply to the transfer of any records and related papers to which this paragraph (n) applies.

(2) Examples. The following examples illustrate this paragraph (n):

Example 1. Preparer A is a tax return preparer as defined by §301.7216-1(b)(2)(i)(A). Preparer A's office is located in southeast Pennsylvania, and Preparer A prepares federal and state income tax returns for taxpayers who live in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and Delaware. Preparer A maintains a list of taxpayer clients containing the information allowed by this paragraph (n). Preparer A provides quarterly state income tax information updates to his individual taxpayer clients by email or U.S. mail. To ensure that his clients only receive the information updates that are relevant to them, Preparer A uses his list to direct his outreach efforts towards the relevant clients by searching his list to filter it by zip code and income tax return form number (Form 1040 and corresponding state income tax return form number). Preparer A may use the list information in this manner without taxpayer consent because he is providing tax information for educational or informational purposes and is targeting clients based solely upon tax return information that is authorized by this paragraph (n) (by zip code, which is part of a taxpayer's address, and by income tax return form number). Without taxpayer consent, Preparer A also may deliver this information to his clients by email, U.S. mail, or other method of delivery that uses only information authorized by this paragraph (n).

Example 2. Preparer B is a tax return preparer as defined by §301.7216-1(b)(2)(i)(A). Preparer B maintains a list of taxpayer clients containing the information allowed by this paragraph (n). Preparer B provides monthly federal income tax information updates in the form of a newsletter to all of her taxpayer clients by email or U.S. mail. When Preparer B hires a new employee who participates or assists in tax return preparation, she announces that hire in the newsletter for the month that follows the hiring. Each announcement includes a photograph of the new employee, the employee's name, the employee's telephone number, a brief listing of the employee's qualifications, and a brief listing of the employee's employment responsibilities. Preparer B may use the tax return information described in this paragraph (n) in this manner without taxpayer consent because she is providing tax information for educational or informational purposes to provide general federal income tax information updates. Preparer B may include the new employee announcements in the form described because this is considered tax information for informational purposes, provided the announcements do not contain solicitations for non-tax return preparation services. Without taxpayer consent, Preparer B also may deliver this information to her clients by email, U.S. mail, or other method of delivery that uses only information authorized by this paragraph (n).

(o) Producing statistical information in connection with tax return preparation business. (1) A tax return preparer may use tax return information, subject to the limitations specified in this paragraph (o), to produce a statistical compilation of data described in §301.7216-1(b)(3)(i)(B). The purpose for and disclosure or use of the statistical compilation requiring data acquired during the tax return preparation process must relate directly to the internal management or support of the tax return preparer's tax return preparation business, or to bona fide research or public policy discussions concerning state or federal taxation. A tax return preparer may not disclose the statistical compilation, or any part thereof, to any other person unless disclosure of the statistical compilation is anonymous as to taxpayer identity, does not disclose an aggregate figure containing data from fewer than ten tax returns, and is in direct support of the tax return preparer's tax return preparation business or of bona fide research or public policy discussions concerning state or federal taxation. A statistical compilation is anonymous as to taxpayer identity if it is in a form which cannot be associated with, or otherwise identify, directly or indirectly, a particular taxpayer. For purposes of this paragraph, marketing and advertising is in direct support of the tax return preparer's tax return preparation business provided the marketing and advertising is not false, misleading, or unduly influential. This paragraph, however, does not authorize the disclosure or use in marketing or advertising of any statistical compilations, or part thereof, that identify dollar amounts of refunds, credits, or deductions associated with tax returns, or percentages relating thereto, whether or not the data are statistical, averaged, aggregated, or anonymous. Disclosures made in support of fundraising activities conducted by volunteer return preparation programs and other organizations described in section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code (Code) in direct support of their tax return preparation businesses are not marketing and advertising under this paragraph. A tax return preparer who produces a statistical compilation of data described in §301.7216-1(b)(3)(i)(B) may disclose the compilation to comply with financial accounting or regulatory reporting requirements whether or not the statistical compilation is anonymous as to taxpayer identity or discloses an aggregate figure containing data from fewer than ten tax returns.

(2) A tax return preparer may not sell or exchange for value a statistical compilation of data described in §301.7216-1(b)(3)(i)(B), in whole or in part, except in conjunction with the transfer of assets made pursuant to the sale or other disposition of the tax return preparer's tax return preparation business. The provisions of paragraph (n) of this section regarding the transfer of a taxpayer list also apply to the transfer of any statistical compilations of data to which this paragraph applies. A person who acquires a statistical compilation, or a part thereof, pursuant to the operation of this paragraph (o) or in conjunction with a sale or other disposition of a tax return preparation business is subject to the provisions of this paragraph with respect to the compilation.

(3) Examples. The following examples illustrate this paragraph (o):

Example 1. Preparer A is a tax return preparer as defined by §301.7216-1(b)(2)(i)(A). In 2009, A used tax return information to produce a statistical compilation of data for both internal management purposes and to support A's tax return preparation business. The statistical compilation included an aggregate figure containing the information that A prepared 32 S corporation tax returns in 2009. In 2010, A decided to embark upon a new marketing campaign emphasizing its experience preparing small business tax returns. In the campaign, A discloses the aggregate figure containing the number of S corporation tax returns prepared in 2009. A's disclosure does not include any information that can be associated with or identify any specific taxpayers. A may disclose the anonymous statistical compilation without taxpayer consent.

Example 2. Preparer B is a tax return preparer as defined by §301.7216-1(b)(2)(i)(A). In 2010, in support of B's tax return preparation business, B wants to advertise that the average tax refund obtained for its clients in 2009 was $2,800. B may not disclose this information because it contains a statistical compilation reflecting average refund amounts.

Example 3. Preparer C is a tax return preparer as defined by §301.7216-1(b)(2)(i)(A) and is a volunteer income tax assistance program. In 2010, in support of C's tax return preparation business, C submits a grant application to a charitable foundation to fund C's operations providing free tax return preparation services to low- and moderate-income families. In support of C's request, C includes anonymous statistical data consisting of aggregated figures containing data from ten or more tax returns showing that, in 2009, C provided services to 500 taxpayers, that 95 percent of the taxpayer population served by C received the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), and that the average amount of the EITC received was $3,300. Despite the fact that this information constitutes an average credit amount, C may disclose the information to the charitable foundation because disclosures made in support of fundraising activities conducted by volunteer income tax assistance programs and other organizations described in section 501(c) of the Code in direct support of their tax return preparation business are not considered marketing and advertising for purposes of §301.7216-2(o)(1).

Example 4. Preparer D is a tax return preparer as defined by §301.7216-1(b)(2)(i)(A). In December 2009, D produced an anonymous statistical compilation of tax return information obtained during the 2009 filing season. In 2010, D wants to disclose portions of the anonymous statistical compilation from aggregated figures containing data from ten or more tax returns in connection with the marketing of its financial advisory and asset planning services. D is required to receive taxpayer consent under §301.7216-3 before disclosing the tax return information contained in the anonymous statistical compilation because the disclosure is not being made in support of D's tax return preparation business.

(p) Disclosure or use of information for quality, peer, or conflict reviews. (1) The provisions of section 7216(a) and §301.7216-1 shall not apply to any disclosure for the purpose of a quality or peer review to the extent necessary to accomplish the review. A quality or peer review is a review that is undertaken to evaluate, monitor, and improve the quality and accuracy of a tax return preparer's tax preparation, accounting, or auditing services. A quality or peer review may be conducted only by attorneys, certified public accountants, enrolled agents, and enrolled actuaries who are eligible to practice before the Internal Revenue Service. See Department of the Treasury Circular 230, 31 CFR part 10. Tax return information may also be disclosed to persons who provide administrative or support services to an individual who is conducting a quality or peer review under this paragraph (p), but only to the extent necessary for the reviewer to conduct the review. Tax return information gathered in conducting a review may be used only for purposes of a review. No tax return information identifying a taxpayer may be disclosed in any evaluative reports or recommendations that may be accessible to any person other than the reviewer or the tax return preparer being reviewed. The tax return preparer being reviewed will maintain a record of the review, including the information reviewed and the identity of the persons conducting the review. After completion of the review, no documents containing information that may identify any taxpayer by name or identification number may be retained by a reviewer or by the reviewer's administrative or support personnel.

(2) The provisions of section 7216(a) and §301.7216-1 shall not apply to any disclosure necessary to accomplish a conflict review. A conflict review is a review undertaken to comply with requirements established by any federal, state, or local law, agency, board or commission, or by a professional association ethics committee or board, to either identify, evaluate, or monitor actual or potential legal and ethical conflicts of interest that may arise when a tax return preparer is employed or acquired by another tax return preparer, or to identify, evaluate, or monitor actual or potential legal and ethical conflicts of interest that may arise when a tax return preparer is considering engaging a new client. Tax return information gathered in conducting a conflict review may be used only for purposes of a conflict review. No tax return information identifying a taxpayer may be disclosed in any evaluative reports or recommendations that may be accessible to any person other than those responsible for identifying, evaluating, or monitoring legal and ethical conflicts of interest. No tax return information identifying a taxpayer may be disclosed outside of the United States or a territory or possession of the United States unless the disclosing and receiving tax return preparers have procedures in place that are consistent with good business practices and designed to maintain the confidentiality of the disclosed tax return information.

(3) Any person (including administrative and support personnel) receiving tax return information in connection with a quality, peer, or conflict review is a tax return preparer for purposes of sections 7216(a) and 6713(a). Tax return information disclosed and used for purposes of a quality, peer, or conflict review shall not be disclosed or used for any other purpose.

(q) Disclosure to report the commission of a crime. The provisions of section 7216(a) and §301.7216-1 shall not apply to the disclosure of any tax return information to the proper Federal, State, or local official in order, and to the extent necessary, to inform the official of activities that may constitute, or may have constituted, a violation of any criminal law or to assist the official in investigating or prosecuting a violation of criminal law. A disclosure made in the bona fide but mistaken belief that the activities constituted a violation of criminal law is not subject to section 7216(a) and §301.7216-1.

(r) Disclosure of tax return information due to a tax return preparer's incapacity or death. In the event of incapacity or death of a tax return preparer, disclosure of tax return information may be made for the purpose of assisting the tax return preparer or his legal representative (or the representative of a deceased tax return preparer's estate) in operating the business. Any person receiving tax return information under the provisions of this paragraph (r) is a tax return preparer for purposes of sections 7216(a) and 6713(a).

(s) Effective/applicability date. Paragraphs (n), (o), and (p) of this section apply to disclosures or uses of tax return information occurring on or after December 28, 2012. All other paragraphs of this section apply to disclosures or uses of tax return information occurring on or after January 1, 2009.

[T.D. 9375, 73 FR 1069, Jan. 7, 2008, as amended by T.D. 9478, 75 FR 52, Jan. 4, 2010; T.D. 9608, 77 FR 76404, Dec. 28, 2012]



For questions or comments regarding e-CFR editorial content, features, or design, email ecfr@nara.gov.
For questions concerning e-CFR programming and delivery issues, email webteam@gpo.gov.