Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Mark Everson said that lawmakers should consider making corporate tax returns part of the public record in a speech at the National Press Club in Washington.

Noting that there needs to be a balance between taxpayer privacy and the improvement of corporate tax compliance, Everson said the differences between financial accounting standards and tax rules have driven companies to increase earnings to drive up share values while lowering taxable earnings to minimize tax payments.

The IRS has developed new tax forms for corporations designed to reveal gaps between corporate financial statements and tax returns and make corporate practices more transparent -- some of which have turned up suspect manipulations, such as tax shelters. Everson also said the IRS is facing problems keeping up with various businesses operating as state-less entities in a bid to avoid paying taxes and that the agency often only sees part of an international transaction.

Everson did stress that there were very valid arguments to be made in favor of either side of the debate. Section 6103 of the Tax Code prohibits the disclosure of taxpayer information, except for very limited circumstances.

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