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IRS Freedom of Information

Enacted in 1966, the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, gives any person the right to access federal agency records or information. The FOIA is based on the presumption that the government and its information belong to the people.

A 1996 amendment to the FOIA, required federal agencies to make many types of records available online.

New law, like the OPEN Government Act, as well as new policies, such as those issued by the President and the Attorney General, promote the spirit of transparency envisioned by our founding fathers.

Some records are only available by written request. If you plan to make a FOIA request to obtain the records you seek, you may refer to the IRS FOIA Guide. IRS may withhold records protected from disclosure by one of the law’s nine exemptions and it must withhold when disclosure of the records is prohibited by law.


As an alternative to filing formal FOIA requests, the IRS offers access to other records through procedures designed to make access quick and easy.


To assist FOIA requesters each IRS Disclosure Office serves as a FOIA Service Center and each Disclosure Manager is a FOIA Public Liaison. These liaisons are advocates for FOIA requesters to help resolve problems encountered in the process.

Alternatives to Formal FOIA Requests
To obtain a copy of a tax return, a written request is required: IRS charges a fee of $57.00 for each copy of a return as originally filed. Send completed Form 4506 to the address provided on the form. [Note: a transcript of a tax account is provided free of charge and may be accepted in lieu of an original return.]
By phone: Obtain a copy of Form 4506 by calling the IRS Forms hotline at (800) 829-3676.
Transcript of account: Contact Taxpayer Service at (800) 829-1040 for individual taxpayer returns; at (800) 829-4933 for business taxpayers returns, or file Form 4506-T.
CAF Client Listing Practitioners must submit a request for this listing. Use this sample CAF Client Listing Request
Tax-exempt or political organization returns: By phone: Contact the Tax Exempt/Government Entities Hotline at (877) 829-5500, or send completed Form 4506-A to the address printed on the form.
Online: Forms 990 are available online through Guidestar, a privately funded database of nonprofit organizations. Some Employee Plan information is available online through private research services (e.g.,
Tax forms and publications: Online: Forms and Publications page
Phone: Contact the IRS Forms Hotline at (800) 829-3676
For tax account & technical tax law questions: Individuals and businesses: Call Taxpayer Service at (800) 829-1040.
Employee plans, tax-exempt, or political organizations: Contact the Tax Exempt/Government Entities hotline at (877) 829-5500.
Useful information online: Frequently Asked Questions
Tax Court cases are not IRS records: Copies are available by writing to: U.S. Tax Court , 400 Second Street, NW, Washington, DC 20217.
Online: Available through public legal research or library services. Opinions issued since 01/01/1999 can be retrieved from the Tax Court's Opinions Search page.
The Internal Revenue Code is not an IRS record: An online version of the official copy of the IRC released by Congress can be accessed via the Tax Code, Regulations and Official Guidance page.
Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 11-Feb-2013