TN 5 (09-05)

GN 03320.015 Disclosure of Tax Return Information Without Consent

A. Policy

1. Disclosure for SSA Program Purposes

SSA components may disclose tax return information as necessary to carry out their responsibilities under the Social Security Act. For example, tax return information may be disclosed to a proper applicant if necessary to review an earnings record in connection with an application for benefits. (See GN 00204.003A. for definition of a “proper applicant.”) Similarly, field offices may disclose tax return information as necessary to resolve earnings discrepancy cases.

2. Disclosure for Non-Program Purposes

SSA may disclose tax return information for non-program purposes only as authorized in the Social Security Act, IRC, or as authorized by IRS. See GN 03320.030 for fee charging instructions. Examples of disclosures of tax return information for non-program purposes are discussed GN 03320.015C.2., GN 03320.015C.3., and GN 03320.015C.4.

3. Disclosure of Tax Return Information to Contractors

SSA may disclose tax return information to a contractor only as allowed under the IRC. Under the IRS’ interpretation of the IRC, SSA may disclose tax return information to a contractor only for a tax administration purpose, or if a disclosure is authorized in the IRC.

Refer any questions concerning the appropriateness of a particular disclosure to a contractor to the Office of Public Disclosure, Office of the General Counsel, for advice.

EXAMPLES:

  1. SSA may disclose earnings records to a contractor for conversion to electronic media. This is considered a tax administration purpose.

  2. SSA may disclose earnings record information to a contractor to prepare and mail Social Security Statements. These disclosures are authorized under the IRC, 26 U.S.C. §6103(m)(7)).

B. Process - Handling Requests

See GN 03320.001E.

C. Examples Of Approved Disclosures Of Tax Return Information

With the exception of the disclosures discussed in subsection GN 03320.015C.1., the information in this section is primarily informational for FOs.  The information in subsection GN 03320.015C.1 provides examples of disclosures of tax return information within SSA; the information in subsection GN 03320.015C.2 through GN 03320.015C.4. provides examples of disclosures of tax return information to third parties without consent. The examples of disclosures to most third parties cited in this section generally are made electronically by Central Office under formal written agreements with the agencies to which tax return information may be disclosed.   

NOTE: Requests received in the regions from employers for disclosure of tax return information should usually be referred to the Employer Services Liaison Officers (ESLOs) in the regional offices.

As necessary, refer questions concerning the appropriateness of disclosing tax return information to the SSA Privacy Officer, Office of Public Disclosure, Office of the General Counsel.

1. Examples of Disclosures of Tax Return Information Within SSA

SSA COMPONENTREASON FOR DISCLOSUREINFORMATION THAT MAY BE DISCLOSED

Office of the General Counsel

For legal advice and for assistance in litigation involving the Commissioner of Social Security.

Any tax return information in SSA’s possession.

Office of the Inspector General

To audit Social Security programs and conduct studies and investigations under 5 U.S.C. App. 3. (This office usually directs its inquiries to the Office of Central Operations (OCO).)

Same as above.

SSA employees

As necessary to perform their official duties (e.g., processing claims or reviewing records to determine if they can be disclosed).

Same as above.

2. Examples of Disclosures of Tax Return Information to Other Federal Agencies Without Consent

REMINDER: These disclosures usually are made via electronic data exchanges. See GN 03320.015C.1.

AGENCYREASON FOR DISCLOSUREINFORMATION THAT MAY BE DISCLOSED

Department of Agriculture (DOA)

To administer the Food Stamp program under the Food Stamp Act of 1977.

Relevant summary and detailed earnings information. See GN 03313.010 for instructions about additional disclosures that may be made to DOA.

Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)

Upon written request from CMS, to verify the employment status of Medicare beneficiaries and spouses of Medicare beneficiaries for purposes of determining the extent to which any Medicare beneficiary is covered under any group health plan.

The name and taxpayer identification number (TIN) of each Medicare beneficiary and his/her spouse, and the name, TIN, and address of each qualified employer. See GN 03313.025A.2. for instructions about additional disclosures that may be made to CMS.

DHHS, Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE)

Upon written request for purposes of establishing and collecting child support obligations from, and locating, individuals owing such obligations pursuant to a plan described in section 454 of the Social Security Act.

The parent’s SSN, most recent address, and the name, address, and employer identification number of his/her employer. See GN 03313.025A.3. for instructions about additional disclosures that may be made to OCSE.

DHHS, OCSE, Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS)

To locate absent parents having child support obligations;

To enforce or determine child custody (including visitation rights); or

To investigate cases of parental kidnapping of a child.

The name and address of the last reporting employer (along with a parent’s SSN and residence address). See GN 03313.025A.3.c. for instructions about additional disclosures that may be made to FPLS in parental kidnapping cases.

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

Upon written request to administer any housing assistance program administered by HUD that involves initial and periodic review of an applicant’s or participant’s income.

Relevant summary and detailed earnings information. See GN 03313.030 for instructions about additional disclosures that may be made to HUD.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

At SSA’s initiative when it is determined from SSA records that earnings are posted to nonwork SSNs before 1/1/97

SSA screens non-work SSNs against earnings records to determine if an alien not authorized to work has posted earnings, and

sends a list of such aliens with posted earnings to DHS for necessary action.

The name and address of the alien and the name and address of the employer reporting the earnings. See GN 03313.095A.2.b., first bullet and GN 03316.040 for instructions about additional disclosures that may be made to DHS.

DHS

Title 8 U.S.C. §1360(c)(2) requires SSA to disclose electronically certain tax return information to DHS for aliens who were issued SSNs for nonwork purposes after January 1, 1997.

The name and address of the alien, the name and address of the person reporting the earnings, and the amount of earnings. See GN 03313.095A.2.b., second bullet and GN 03316.040 for instructions about additional disclosures that may be made to DHS.

Department of State (DOS)

To administer the Social Security Act in foreign countries.

Disclosure may be made to the American Institute in Taiwan, a private corporation under contract to DOS, to administer the Social Security Act in Taiwan.

Relevant summary and detailed earnings information. See GN 03313.020 for instructions about additional disclosures that may be made to DOS.

Department of the Treasury, IRS

For tax administration purposes.

Any tax information in SSA’s possession. See GN 03312.045, GN 03313.060, and GN 03316.035 for instructions about additional disclosures that may be made to IRS.

Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA)

Upon written request to administer the following programs under title 38, U.S.C.:

  • any needs-based program under chapter 15 of title 38;

  • parents’ dependency and indemnity compensation under section 1315 of title 38;

  • health-care services furnished under section 1710(a)(1)(I), 1710(a)(2), 170(b), and 1712(a)(2)(B) of title 38; and

  • compensation paid under chapter 11 of title 38.

Relevant summary and detailed earnings information. See GN 03313.045 for instructions about additional disclosures that may be made to DVA.

DVA, Philippines Regional Office (VARO)

To administer the Social Security Act in Manila, Philippines and other parts of the Asia-Pacific region.

Relevant summary and detailed earnings information. See GN 03316.020 and GN 03316.025 for instructions about additional disclosures that may be made to VARO.

Government Accountability Office (GAO)

To review SSA’s administration of the Social Security Act.

Any tax return information in SSA’s possession. See GN 03313.090 for instructions about additional disclosures that may be made to GAO.

Office of Personnel Management (OPM)

Upon written request to administer chapters 83 and 84 of title 5, U.S.C.

Any tax return information in SSA’s possession. See GN 03313.050 for instructions about additional disclosures that may be made to OPM.

Railroad Retirement Board (RRB)

To administer provisions of the Railroad Retirement and Social Security Acts.

Any tax return information in SSA’s possession. See GN 03313.055 for instructions about additional disclosures that may be made to RRB.

3. Examples of Disclosures of Tax Return Information to State Agencies Without Consent

REMINDER: These disclosures usually are made via electronic data exchanges. FOs should follow the instructions in GN 03320.001E. See GN 03320.015C.1.

NOTE: See GN 03314.040B. for a discussion of procedures that allow FOs to disclose tax return information to State child support enforcement agencies in emergency or sensitive situations.

AGENCYREASON FOR DISCLOSUREINFORMATION THAT MAY BE DISCLOSED

State Disability Determination Service (DDS)

SSA’s disclosure regulation (20 C.F.R. §401.25) defines “Social Security Administration” (SSA), in part, as “units of State government that makes determinations under agreements made under sections 221 and 1633 of the Act.” State DDSs may have access to tax return information for this purpose.

Relevant summary and detailed earnings information. See GN 03316.005B. for additional instructions concerning disclosures to State DDSs.

State Child Support Enforcement (CSE) Agencies

To administer programs under title IV-D of the Social Security Act by establishing and collecting child support obligations from individuals owing such obligations, and locating those individuals.

Requests concerning parental kidnapping are sent to:

Family Support Administration
330 C Street
Washington, DC 20201

The parent’s SSN, most recent address, and the name, address, and employer identification number of his/her employer. See GN 03314.040 for instructions about additional disclosures that may be made to State CSE agencies.

State Agencies Administering Programs Under 26 U.S.C. 6103(l)(7)

To administer the following programs:

  • the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program under Part A of title IV of the Social Security Act (Act);

  • the Medicaid program under title XIX of the Act;

  • the Unemployment Insurance Compensation (UIC) program under section 3304 of the IRC;

  • the food stamp program under the Food Stamp Act of 1977;

  • a State-administered Supplemental Security Income (SSI) supplement; or

  • any State adult assistance programs under a plan approved under title I, X, XIV, or XVI of the Act.

Relevant summary and detailed earnings information.

See GN 03314.055 for instructions about additional disclosures that may be made to State TANF agencies.

See GN 03314.090 for instructions about additional disclosures that may be made to State Medicaid agencies.

See GN 03314.125 for instructions about additional disclosures that may be made to State UIC agencies.

See GN 03314.075 for instructions about additional disclosures that may be made to State Food Stamp agencies.

See GN 03314.110 for instructions about additional disclosures that may be made to State agencies for State-administered SSI supplements.

State Law
Enforcement Agencies

Upon written request to investigate fraud in any of the programs listed above, including child support enforcement.

Relevant summary and detailed earnings information. See GN 03312.020 for instructions about additional disclosures that may be made to State law enforcement agencies.

4. Examples of Other Authorized Disclosures of Tax Return Information Without Consent

THIRD PARTYREASON FOR DISCLOSUREINFORMATION THAT MAY BE DISCLOSED

Employers or Former

Employers

To correct and reconstruct earnings records, and for Social Security tax purposes.

Any tax return information originally reported by the employer or former employer. See GN 03316.080 for instructions about additional disclosures that may be made to employers.

Pursuant to Court Orders/Subpoenas in SSA litigation matters

To defend the Commissioner of Social Security in litigation involving SSA’s administration of the Act. The Office of Public Disclosure, Office of the General Counsel must be consulted before any disclosure is made.

Disclosures under court orders in matters not involving SSA’s administration of the Act are generally not permissible under the IRC.

Relevant summary and detailed earnings information. See GN 03330.000 for additional instructions about disclosures pursuant to court orders and subpoenas.


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GN 03320.015 - Disclosure of Tax Return Information Without Consent - 07/27/2012
Batch run: 07/27/2012
Rev:07/27/2012