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FOIA Request – Getting the Auditor’s File

Under a federal law called the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, you are entitled to a copy of almost everything in your IRS auditor’s file. You could just contact the auditor and ask for his or her notes and work papers justifying the conclusions. Some auditors will give you copies of their file just for asking, some won’t.

CAUTION:

If you request your IRS file informally, you will never know whether the auditor is giving you everything in their file, or not.

For this reason, you are better off making a formal written request for the file under the FOIA. You may not get anything other than what the auditor gave or would have given you. However, it’s also possible to mine a gold nugget, especially items given to you accidentally, that by law the IRS does not have to disclose.

For instance, the file may contain something called a Report Transmittal form showing that the auditor initially suspected fraud. Or, you may be able to conclude from the deletions in the file that the IRS investigated other items or had made a criminal referral.

CAUTION:

If you discover the IRS had, at any point in time, suspected you of tax fraud or crime, see an experienced tax attorney to discuss any possible implications.

The IRS has not developed a preprinted FOIA request form. Instead, write to the FOIA disclosure officer at your local IRS district office—the same address where you sent your protest letter. Don’t send the two letters together.

  • Ask for a copy of your complete audit file by the year under audit. Offer to pay for copying charges.
  • The IRS does not have to make copies for you, although it usually will, and free of charge.
  • Enclose a photocopy of your driver’s license or birth certificate.
  • Hand-deliver or send your letter by certified mail, return receipt requested.

Allow several weeks for a response to your FOIA request. If you don’t hear from anyone within 30 days, call the disclosure officer at the district office. If your appeals hearing is approaching and you haven’t yet received the FOIA material, ask the appeals officer for a postponement. The appeals officer should agree if you are not asking for too much time—a few weeks or so. If the officer agrees to the postponement over the phone, send a confirming letter.

Bishop Toups

Bishop L. Toups is an estate planning, elder law, and tax attorney in Southwest Florida. He helps clients with their various estate planning needs and helps clients navigate the Medicaid system here in Florida. He also represents clients nationwide and worldwide in front of the IRS. Bishop is also a V.A. accredited attorney and helps Veterans obtain benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.