Get Information From the IRS

The IRS consumes information. It gathers it, stores it, and, unfortunately, it loses it.

There are times when you, as the taxpayer, need to get information from the IRS. There are ways to do just that.

The Informal Request

Get records from the iRS

The first attempt to obtain information from the IRS should be as simple as asking for it. If you are working with an IRS auditor and you want access to their files, just ask. The same goes for an IRS appeals officer, IRS attorney, etc. Most IRS employees will share information about you and your taxes with you voluntarily.

Note: if your tax attorney, CPA, or enrolled agent asks, they will need a Form 2848 signed by you and on file with the IRS. The IRS is not supposed to share your information with others absent this form on file.

If you are trying to get information that would be captured by the IRS computer system, you might also try requesting IRS transcripts. There are several different types of IRS transcripts. Each one captures different information about you and your finances.

If you are trying to get a copy of a tax return you filed, there is a form for that. You can find the form online and follow the instructions.

Freedom of Information Act Request

If your request to obtain information was not honored or the IRS simply cannot find the records you asked for, your next step is to submit a Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) request.

The FOIA provides taxpayers with one avenue for obtaining specific records held by the government. This includes the IRS. The IRS has a Disclosure Office set up to handle these requests. The IRS often fails to respond within the time limit provided by the law (yes, this is unfair; the IRS demands taxpayers provide information timely and it often imposes harsh consequences for late responses, yet the IRS consistently fails to live up to its obligations to provide information timely).

IRS FOIA requests are typically short written letters that are presented to the IRS. If the letter complies with the FOIA rules, the IRS has a very short time for responding to the requesting taxpayer.

If the request requires a voluminous response, the IRS is entitled to charge fees for searching for records, duplicating records, and in some cases for reviewing records. The IRS does not impose charges all that often. These days, the IRS will usually locate the information and, if it is voluminous, it will send you a compact disc with the information on it.

While the FOIA request may be a simple process, taxpayers should be aware that FOIA requests must list what records the taxpayer specifically wants and is entitled to obtain. Imprecise and poorly worded information requests will result in unnecessary delays, costs, and in some cases the FOIA request being returned to the taxpayer as unprocessable.

If the IRS fails to respond or if it opts to withhold information, FOIA provides a judicial remedy. The IRS is authorized to withhold some information. The IRS is required to cite these exemptions if it locates responsive records and opts to withhold them. The burden is on the IRS to prove that it is entitled to rely on these exemptions.

Help Getting Info From the IRS

An experienced tax attorney can help you determine if a FOIA request is appropriate and help you craft a request that will produce the records that are most helpful to you.

If you need help getting IRS records and want to hire us to help, please call us at (713) 909-4906 or schedule an appointment to talk to our tax attorneys about the IRS records you want.

Watch Our Free On-Demand Webinar

In 40 minutes, we'll teach you how to survive an IRS audit.

We'll explain how the IRS conducts audits and how to manage and close the audit.