As an attorney, I am extremely conscientious of client secrets and confidentiality. Rest assured that one of the benefits of hiring an attorney, is that attorney-client privilege protects you and your tax case from a number of potential issues. However, more and more we are seeing government agencies expose the name, county of residence, and amounts allegedly delinquent to attempt to shame the taxpayers or use them as an example. Often it is the tax agency that may drag a client’s name into the public domain in airing tax delinquencies or convictions. For years, both the Internal Revenue Service and various State Tax Boards have used public pressure to urge taxpayers into compliance.
In the IRS’s case, not only do names of delinquent taxpayers become public after the Internal Revenue Service files a tax lien, recently we have seen an increase in press releases documenting in tax evasion convictions.
The former chief of the criminal investigation division of the Internal Revenue Service, Mark Matthews has stated, “we believe that our publicity efforts serve as a warning to those who may be tempted to cheat that there are criminal consequences for their actions.”
Some States have statutory authority to publicly “out” delinquent taxpayers. For instance, California Revenue & Taxation Code Section 19195 directs the Franchise Tax Board to publish an annual list of the top 250 taxpayers with liened state income tax delinquencies greater than $100,000.
Unfortunately, once certain due process qualifications are met, the Internal Revenue Service and/or a State agency can drag your name through the public domain. As such, it is our recommendation that you contact our office immediately when you have a tax case.