Section 7216, a part of the Internal Revenue Code since 1971, imposes criminal penalties on tax return preparers who knowingly or recklessly make unauthorized disclosures or uses of information furnished in connection with the preparation of an income tax return.A violation of the section is not to be taken lightly — it comes with a penalty of up to a year’s imprisonment or a fine of not more than $1,000, or both.
Newly issued regulations on this section, which apply beginning in January 2009, are the first updates to the rules since the dawn of the digital age. The rules seek to give taxpayers greater control over the use of their tax return information by prohibiting disclosure by the preparer without their “knowing and voluntary” consent.
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