Have you ever peeked behind the curtain to see what’s on your IRS or state file? There’s a good chance you didn’t even know it was possible to see the data that the IRS has on you.
If you’d like to find out, consider invoking the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). It requires government agencies to disclose information to you upon request. What is a Freedom of Information Act request? It is simply a request for access to documents that are not available in the public domain. Of course, the fact that a Freedom of Information request is possible doesn’t mean that it’s easy for the average citizen.
Why Would You Want to Make a Freedom of Information Act Request?
A FOIA request can be useful if you’re currently having a conflict with the IRS. In fact, the information that is contained within your file can help you to be better prepared in a conflict regarding your finances or taxes. Here’s a rundown of some of the benefits of pulling up your records:
- FOIA documents can help to show you why, how, when, and where your tax issues began
- You will be able to view the information that has been used to assess things in your case – like taxes, penalties, and interest
- You will generally see the “total picture” regarding your tax problems
Access to Freedom of Information request documents will help you spot any errors or inaccuracies that could be responsible for the problems you’re facing. It is not uncommon for inaccurate information to be discovered. In addition, you can see exactly how the IRS views your case once you can see all of the documents that are being used behind the scenes.
How to File a Freedom of Information Act Request
You will need to submit a request to the FOIA office of a particular agency if you are looking for records. Requests for IRS records must be sent to the Disclosure Central Processing Unit. The IRS requires requesters to use specific procedures to ensure fast responses, and it has 20 days to decide whether it will comply with your request.
You will be required to submit a formal letter that reasonably identifies the records you are seeking. You will also be required to prove that you have the authority to request and receive the files you are asking for in your letter. You must also indicate in the letter your commitment to paying any fees that are accrued through the retrieval process.
Of course, getting the information that you’re seeking isn’t merely as simple as just sending a letter to the right address. The IRS actually has several pages of requirements for how to properly send a Freedom of Information request. This is one of the reasons why it’s wise to draft and submit a formal FOIA request letter with the help of a professional who has done it before.
Let Us Help You With Your Freedom of Information Act Request
The team at the Tax Group Center has helped countless taxpayers take charge of their own files using the Freedom of Information Act. Make an appointment to sit down with our team of tax professionals to make sure your letter meets all the right requirements. FOIA support is just one of the many tax services offered by our team of licensed tax experts, lawyers, and CPAs – let us put our 30 years of experience to work for you!