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Are My Business Tax Returns Public? Advice for Small Businesses

Business tax returns are not public in the United States. Neither the IRS or your tax preparer can release any information from your taxes to third parties without your consent. This applies to both personal and business taxes as some business owners, such as sole proprietors, report their earnings on their personal income taxes.

In this article, we’ll cover:

NOTE: FreshBooks Support team members are not certified income tax or accounting professionals and cannot provide advice in these areas, outside of supporting questions about FreshBooks. If you need income tax advice please contact an accountant in your area.

Are Business Tax Returns Public?

No, business tax returns are not public in the United States. Corporate tax information is completely confidential. Neither the IRS or your tax preparer can release tax information to each other or to any third party without your consent.

Legal Protection

The IRS imposes harsh penalties on any tax preparers that release your tax information without your consent. You can also bring a civil lawsuit against them for damages. If your tax preparer ever requests to share your tax return information with a third party, you can always say no.

Ask for the company’s privacy policy if you want more information about how your information is being shared.

Granting Access to Tax Returns

Likewise, the IRS can’t release any tax information to your tax preparer without your permission. You can grant the IRS and/or your tax preparer to share information with each other via Form 8821.

You also need to grant power of attorney if you want your tax preparer, a family member or another trusted person to handle your taxes and communicate with the IRS on your behalf. You can do so using Form 2848, according to The Balance.

Form 2848 will let your tax preparer act on your behalf so if you only want them to prepare your return, not make decisions for you, only use Form 8821.

Organizations with Mandatory Public Disclosure

Organizations that don’t have to pay taxes must make their tax returns publicly available. Any member of the public can request to view their annual returns. Requests are fulfilled by the IRS.

Tax-exempt organizations include:

  • Charities
  • Churches and religious organizations
  • Political organizations
  • Private foundations
  • Non-profits

People also ask:

Are Tax Returns Public Information?

Individual income tax returns are not public information. They are private and any unauthorized disclosure of the returns or the information contained within are prohibited by law. The IRS cannot release any taxpayer information except to some individuals and agencies with special privileges, according to the Tax History Project.

Are Tax Forms Public Record?

No, tax forms are not public record. They are private information. Tax forms contain confidential information and are not meant to be shared.

Information from a tax form can only be revealed to certain persons if there is some legal need to do so—meaning the documents must be necessary to the case.

  • For example, if a tax return is required for a court case, the judge and lawyers will be able to view your current and past tax records. Bankruptcy filing is one case where this would be necessary, or unpaid child support cases. Or if an individual or business owes back taxes are owed to the government, IRS agents and auditors will have access to tax information that will help them figure out how much you owe, according to Sapling.

That said, the tax forms do not become public. They are only used in the court.

Are Tax Returns Confidential?

Tax returns and the information contained within them are confidential. It’s a federal offence for a government worker or non-government person worker with access to your tax information, such as a tax preparer, to release information contained in a tax return. This is only allowed in specific situations, such as for a federal background check or criminal proceedings, according to Pocket Sense.


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