Some of you may have heard about the IRS’ recent release of PTIN holder information. The AICPA’s Tax team has had, and continues to have, numerous conversations with IRS staff, and has questioned the appropriateness of the specific data items that the IRS released, particularly mailing addresses (which may be home or business addresses, depending on which address the PTIN holder listed on the application), email addresses and phone numbers.
The IRS has received requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to provide information about PTIN holders. FOIA defines which records can be disclosed and outlines procedures for disclosure. According to the IRS, its attorneys determined that it was appropriate for the IRS to comply with the FOIA requests for PTIN holders.
In responding to the requests, the IRS disclosed these data points on PTIN holders, in CD format, for a fee of $35 to those who had submitted FOIA requests:
- Mailing address
- Email address
- Business name
- Business address
- Business phone
- Business website
The AICPA is continuing its discussions with the IRS, and have strongly suggested that IRS provide an opportunity for preparers to “opt out” of the release of some or all of the personal and business information. The AICPA Tax team has also pointed out the need for adequate communication to PTIN registrants about the disclosure of their information.
The AICPA has begun legal research to determine if we agree with the IRS compliance, and with the specific information items that were released. We’re exploring additional actions to address member concerns.
As a result, we have a tentative indication from the IRS that it may suspend additional FOIA disclosures pending its analysis of the questions that we’ve raised.
In the meantime, PTIN holders may change their account information anytime, during the current renewal season and anytime that the PTIN system is open for business. Therefore, one way to address any concerns you may have about your PTIN information being released in response to FOIA requests is to update your account so that only your business information is made available. For some PTIN holders, that means updating your permanent mailing addresses and telephone numbers from personal residences and telephone numbers to business addresses and telephone numbers.