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A Sept. 30 report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found that the IRS may have violated taxpayer rights by improperly withholding or not adequately searching for and providing information responsive to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

TIGTA also found that “sensitive taxpayer information was inadvertently disclosed in response to nine (16.4 percent) of the FOIA/Privacy Act and four (7.4 percent) of the I.R.C. § 6103 information requests reviewed.”

“TIGTA reviewed a statistically valid sample of 55 FOIA/Privacy Act information requests from a population of 3,415 FOIA/Privacy Act requests and found nine (16.4 percent) in which taxpayer rights may have been violated because the IRS improperly withheld or failed to adequately search for and provide information to requestors,” the report, titled Fiscal Year 2013 Statutory Review of Compliance with the Freedom of Information Act, said.

The IRS hired 21 new disclosure specialists in Fiscal Year 2012 and 24 new specialists in 2011, TIGTA said.

“The influx of new employees may be a contributing factor to the increased instances of taxpayer information being either erroneously withheld or not provided in error,” TIGTA said.