Alvin Brown, Tax Attorney, Identifies Section 6103(f) of the Internal Revenue Code, as the Authority Allowing Senator Reid to See His Tax Returns

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Whether Senator Reid has a Bain contact or not, Governor Romney's tax returns are likely in the possession of Senator Reid under the authority of Section 6103(f) of the IRS code

According to the Huffington Post in article posted on July 31, 2012, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/31/harry-reid-romney-taxes_n_1724027lhtml, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has what he says is an informed explanation for why Mitt Romney refuses to release additional tax returns. According a Bain investor, Reid charged, Romney didn't pay any taxes for 10 years. "Harry, he didn't pay any taxes for 10 years," Reid recounted the person as saying.

The general rule is that the IRS and others cannot disclose private taxpayer information, including 10 years of tax returns of Governor Romney. But there are statutory exceptions to that disclosure restriction.

Section 6103(f) of the Internal Revenue Code expressly permits inspection of returns by the House Ways and Means Committee, Senate Finance Committee, and Joint Committee on Taxation, and also permits inspection by any select Committee of Senate or House, or joint committee authorized by legislative resolution to investigate returns. These committees may submit relevant, useful information to Senate, House or both.

Section 6103(f) Disclosure to committees of Congress.

(1)    Committee on Ways and Means, Committee on Finance, and Joint Committee on Taxation.

Upon written request from the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives, the chairman of the Committee on Finance of the Senate, or the chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Secretary shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request, except that any return or return information which can be associated with, or otherwise identify, directly or indirectly, a particular taxpayer shall be furnished to such committee only when sitting in closed executive session unless such taxpayer otherwise consents in writing to such disclosure.

(2)    Chief of Staff of Joint Committee on Taxation.

Upon written request by the Chief of Staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Secretary shall furnish him with any return or return information specified in such request. Such Chief of Staff may submit such return or return information to any committee described in paragraph (1), except that any return or return information which can be associated with, or otherwise identify, directly or indirectly, a particular taxpayer shall be furnished to such committee only when sitting in closed executive session unless such taxpayer otherwise consents in writing to such disclosure.

(3)    Other committees.

Pursuant to an action by, and upon written request by the chairman of, a committee of the Senate or the House of Representatives (other than a committee specified in paragraph (1)) specially authorized to inspect any return or return information by a resolution of the Senate or the House of Representatives or, in the case of a joint committee (other than the joint committee specified in paragraph (1)) by concurrent resolution, the Secretary shall furnish such committee, or a duly authorized and designated subcommittee thereof, sitting in closed executive session, with any return or return information which such resolution authorizes the committee or subcommittee to inspect. Any resolution described in this paragraph shall specify the purpose for which the return or return information is to be furnished and that such information cannot reasonably be obtained from any other source.

The Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee is expressly authorized to request any tax return. The Commissioner of Internal Revenue is required to comply with a request for specific tax returns from any of those designated with that authority under the section 6103(f) statute. The ease with which the Romney returns can be requested from the IRS from an authorized source under section 6103(f) makes it the likely that those tax returns are under review by that authorized source, in the opinion of Tax Attorney Alvin S. Brown. Mr. Brown speculates that the allegations that Governor Romney did not pay taxes for a 10 year period may be valid in part based on the ease of access for those returns by a host of members of Congress, including Senator Reid. Mr. Brown notes also that the attribution for that information from a Bain informant may not be accurate. Mr. Brown suggests that public knowledge that the tax returns of Governor Romney were requested by a person authorized to receive those tax returns would likely be perceived by the public and the media as an unfair breach of trust.

Mr. Brown notes also that the IRS may make disclosures of tax return data to the President of the United States under section 6103(g) of the IRS Code.

Mr. Brown does not express any opinion on whether there has been a disclosure of tax return data of Governor Romney, but he notes that it is "unlawful" to make a disclosure of any private information in a tax return under section 7213 of the IRS Code. Mr. Brown believes that a comment that Governor Romney did pay taxes for some years, if taken from a tax return would likely be viewed as a section 7213 issue.

In the circumstance Mr. Brown speculates that the Bain "source" may have been mentioned as a distraction to avoid disclosing possession of those tax returns in a Capitol Hill office safe. Mr. Brown acknowledges that there is no information that anyone, authorized to obtain Mr. Romney's tax returns under section 6103(f) or 6103(g), has actually made that request. On the other hand Mr. Brown suggests that the information in the Huffington Post article, if true, could have come from the tax returns of Governor Romney. Section 7213 makes it a felony to make an unlawful disclosure of tax return information.

Alvin S. Brown, Esq.
Tax Attorney
Alvin Brown & Associates
575 Madison Ave., 8th Floor
New York, NY 10022-8511
http://www.irstaxattorney.com
(212) 588-1113
ab(at)irstaxattorney(dot)com

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Alvin Brown
Alvin Brown & Associates, LLC.
212-588-1113
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