Obtaining your IRS records under the Freedom of Information Act

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The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) gives you access to government agencies’ records when you request for it. Since the IRS is a government agency, you can request your records from them. What’s the goal in doing this?  Click here to read or watch more IRS Help resources.

When you are questioning an audit or tax debt, the FOIA can be extremely helpful, especially in finding out how and when your IRS problems started. Taxes assessed to you and accrued penalties and interest, as well as notes, opinions, and computations formed by IRS agents can be found in those records.

•You have to request this records in writing and include these elements:

•Make the request under the Freedom of Information Act.

•Specify the records you’re requesting.

•Include your name, address, and a copy of your driver’s license.

•State that you will shoulder fees that apply.

Specify the document format you prefer and the maximum amount that you’re willing to pay, and your phone number if they need to call you.

Send the request to the IRS Disclosure Office that has jurisdiction over your records, a list of which can be obtained from the IRS FOIA website. Keep a copy of the request for good measure.

The information must be requested early if you have a deadline to meet, as it takes about thirty days for the IRS to respond. It takes time for the IRS to gather the records, but you can speed up the process by showing that the information are required for a “compelling need”, which can be found in the IRS FOIA webpage.

Also, be aware that the IRS edits out records that it feels you are not entitled to. There are 9 exemptions and 3 exclusions that enables the IRS to withhold information, according to the FOIA. If you receive documents with information blacked out and believe that the information is rightfully yours, you can take the matter to the FOIA Appeals Office. Please note that the Appeals Office is very behind on their cases, so you may not get the information you’re looking for before you need it.

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