January 28,2000

Roth Statement on Release of Joint Tax Study on Disclosure of Tax Return Information

WASHINGTON -- Senate Finance Committee Chairman William V. Roth, Jr. (R-DE) today released the following statement on the Joint Committee on Taxation study on disclosure of tax return information:

"Today, the Joint Committee staff have issued a report on the current law provisions regarding disclosure of Federal tax returns and return information," Roth stated. "Due to concerns about the confidentiality of taxpayer information, the Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 required the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Treasury Department to conduct separate studies on the issue. I look forward to receiving the Treasury study when it is available.

"Taxpayers expect and deserve that the information they provide to the Internal Revenue Service will remain confidential and not be disclosed or otherwise used without their consent. I believe taxpayers would be surprised to know that approximately 37 Federal and 215 State agencies receive taxpayer information from the IRS. If such disclosures must be made, appropriate safeguards must be in place to prevent unauthorized disclosure.

"I am concerned that the IRS is becoming more and more of an information source and that taxpayer information may not be adequately protected.

"In addition, there have been concerns that the IRS hides behind the confidentiality provision to avoid disclosing information it does not want to reveal. While taxpayer information must be protected, the IRS must not hide behind the disclosure laws. Our tax laws must be administered in a fair and uniform manner with as much disclosure of IRS rules and interpretations of the law as possible.

"I am optimistic that the issues raised in the report will stimulate discussion between the Administration, Congress, and the private sector on how to best protect confidential taxpayer information while also providing taxpayers with the information they need to comply with our complex tax laws."