Another federal regulator has publicly floated the idea of the government requiring the release of tax information from public companies.

Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox said that he has informally discussed such a requirement with Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Mark Everson, according to published reports. Everson himself had mentioned the possibility of making corporate tax returns public during a mid-March speech.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, Cox said that his lunchtime conversation with Everson centered on the benefits for investors of being able to compare tax reports and financial statements side-by-side.

Everson has stressed that there were very valid arguments to be made both for and against such disclosure. Section 6103 of the Tax Code prohibits the disclosure of taxpayer information, except for very limited circumstances.Both men have said that requiring the information to be made public might be a possible way to reconcile differences between financial accounting standards and tax rules. Advocacy groups have long complained about gaps between what companies report to the SEC and what they report to the IRS.

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