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HARRISBURG, Pa. – Stating that the IRS’ proposed rule concerning the disclosure of tax return information “appears to authorize tax preparers to obtain consent from taxpayers in order to share, or sell, the taxpayer’s tax return information to unrelated third parties for marketing/solicitation purposes,” the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association filed a comment letter last week with the agency expressing its objection to that aspect of the proposed rule. “PCUA respectfully submits that the IRS should not be relaxing its tax return information disclosure rules during a time when the U.S. Congress and various state lawmakers are attempting to determine which parties should be responsible for notifying consumers of data security breaches and which parties should be held accountable for such breaches that ultimately result in monetary and identity theft,” PCUA Associate Counsel Laurie Kennedy wrote. In its proposed rule, the IRS states, “The current regulations restrict use of tax return information for the solicitation of services or facilities in matters not related to the IRS to those `currently offered’ by the tax return preparer or members of the tax return preparer’s `affiliated group,’ within the meaning of section 1504. Because taxpayers must consent to any use or disclosure connected with the solicitation, taxpayer privacy interests are adequately protected regardless of whether a service is currently offered or whether a business offering a service to the taxpayer is a member of a tax return preparer’s affiliated group. The currently-offered and affiliated-group rules restrict the ability of taxpayers to control and direct the use of their own tax return information as they see fit. The proposed regulations adopt an approach that ensures taxpayers are provided with a meaningful opportunity to consent to the use and disclosure of their tax return information. Accordingly, the proposed rules revoke the affiliated-group and currently-offered restrictions.” The proposed rule further states, “The current regulations do not place limits on tax return preparer’s ability to obtain consents to use tax return information to solicit business in matters related to the IRS. The proposed regulations remove the distinction between matters related to the IRS and matters not related to the IRS, and thereby make uniform the requirements regarding consents to use tax return information to solicit business.” In its comment letter to the federal agency, the PCUA further wrote, “If consumers want to share their tax return information with businesses that offer services unrelated to IRS matters, then taxpayers may do so themselves. Tax preparers should not be authorized to obtain consent to share, or sell, tax return information to parties unknown to the taxpayer,” she added. -

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