An IG review of Freedom of Information Act compliance at the IRS raised issues regarding timeliness in informing requesters of the status of the request, improper withholding of information, and inadvertent disclosure of sensitive taxpayer information.
In a routine annual review, auditors examined a statistically valid sample of 70 requests and found information was improperly withheld in 10–which projected to nearly 400 out of the total of nearly 2,700 total requests. “Although the IRS properly released thousands of pages from these documents, taxpayer rights may have been violated because the IRS improperly withheld information from the requestors,” it said.
In five cases the IRS did not meet its goal of providing a status update within 30 business days of the request and in three, disclosure specialists inadvertently disclosed sensitive taxpayer information, it said.
The report added that the backlog of requests decreased by 4 percent in 2016 from 2015 after increasing in each of the prior four years.