California’s Franchise Tax Board is in the process of notifying more than 200 corporate taxpayers that their information was made public Sept. 19 when an employee accidentally e-mailed a list of companies under audit.   The e-mail distribution list included two writers for BNA, a publisher of print and electronic news, which promptly reported that the listing of taxpayers under audit for tax years 2003 and earlier had been released. The list included the name of the taxpayers, their identification numbers, and the name of the auditor assigned to each case.   The tax board is responsible for collecting state personal income taxes, as well as bank and corporate taxes for the entire state. Under California’s Revenue and Taxation Code, the board must notify taxpayers that their information had been disclosed, and the responsible employee can be charged with a misdemeanor.   An FTB spokeswoman told BNA that the employee intended to send the message to himself, but accidentally sent the message to a broader distribution list. In a follow-up email sent the same day, he asked recipients to permanently delete the e-mail from their computers.   According to BNA, the list includes several well-known corporations in a variety of industries, including entertainment, energy, electronics, and banking. Notes in the file appear to show that several of the taxpayers are being audited for possible participation in abusive tax shelters.

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