How safe is the information contained in your tax return? Not very, apparently, if your political views lean in the “wrong” direction.
Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code states “…no officer or employee of the United States,… shall disclose any return or return information obtained by him in any manner in connection with his service as such an officer or an employee or otherwise or under the provisions of this section” under threat of five years in prison.
Seems pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? However, the House Oversight Committee has discovered that apparently it’s not clear enough for some high-ranking IRS officials.
Here’s Patrick Howley’s article from The Daily Caller. Follow Patrick on twitter
Top Internal Revenue Service Obamacare official Sarah Hall Ingram discussed confidential taxpayer information with senior Obama White House officials, according to 2012 emails obtained by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and provided to The Daily Caller. Lois Lerner, then head of the IRS Tax Exempt Organizations division, also received an email alongside White House officials that contained confidential information.
Ingram attempted to counsel the White House on a lawsuit from religious organizations opposing Obamacare’s contraception mandate. Email exchanges involving Ingram and White House officials — including White House health policy advisor Ellen Montz and deputy assistant to the president for health policy Jeanne Lambrew — contained confidential taxpayer information, according to Oversight.
The emails provided to Oversight investigators by the IRS had numerous redactions with the signifier “6103.” Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code forbids a federal employee from “disclos[ing] any return or return information obtained by him in any manner in connection with his service as such an officer or an employee.”
Federal employees who illegally disclose confidential taxpayer information could face five years in prison.
“Thanks, David. Thanks for the information on ,” White House official Lambrew wrote to IRS official David Fish in a July 20, 2012 exchange. “I am still hoping to understand whether the 50 percent rule is moot if the organization does not offer goods and services for sale to the general public. Do we assume that organizations like  do offer goods and services for sale?”
Another email from Montz to Ingram and others refers to the “ memo” and the “ letter” while discussing organizations that are not required to file 990′s.
Ingram appeared before Rep. Darrell Issa’s House Oversight Committee Wednesday and claimed she could not recall a document that contained confidential taxpayer information.
“Well one of the areas of interest is there’s a significant redaction that quotes the statute 6103. Do you know who is underneath that blackout?” Issa asked Ingram. “I don’t recall the document so I can’t help you with what’s underneath that redaction,” Ingram said. “Her response has not put concerns to rest,” Oversight staffer Frederick Hill said. ”This caught people’s eye.” Issa has requested unredacted copies of the emails, citing a prohibition from misusing Section 6103 “for the purpose of concealing information from a congressional inquiry.”
Ingram headed the scandal-ridden IRS office responsible for overseeing tax-exempt nonprofit groups before leaving to head the agency’s office in charge of Obamacare implementation.
An IRS voice mail message declined to comment on any media inquiries during the government shutdown, citing law.