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Consent to Use Tax Return Information


 Frequently Asked Questions


What is the consent form required by Tax Code §7216 and Treasury Regulation §301.7216 and why is it an issue?

Internal Revenue Code §7216 was enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1971.  It prohibits preparers of tax returns from knowingly or recklessly disclosing or using tax return information.   Treas. Reg. §301.7216, which explains the code, had been substantially unchanged for over 30 years and did not address the modern return preparation marketplace, particularly electronic filing and the cross-marketing of financial and commercial products and services during the return preparation experience.  Updated regulations were published on January 7 and July 2, 2008 and apply to uses and disclosures beginning on January 1, 2009.


What is “tax return information?”

Tax return information is all the information tax return preparers use to prepare tax returns.  It can be obtained from taxpayers or other sources, such as the IRS.  It also includes all computations, worksheets, and printouts preparers create; correspondence from IRS during the preparation, filing and correction of returns; statistical compilations of tax return information; and tax return preparation software registration information.  All tax return information is protected by §7216 and the regulations.


What are “consents to disclose tax return information?”

Consents to disclose tax return information are paper or electronic documents that contain certain specific information including the names of the tax return preparer and the taxpayer and that specify the nature of the disclosure(s), to whom the disclosures will be made, and details on the data to be disclosed.  Consents are valid only if they are a made by the taxpayer knowingly and voluntarily and are signed and dated by the taxpayer in pen-and-ink or electronically.  Consent forms must include certain language and warnings that are provided by the IRS.


When and how does a tax return preparer obtain consent to use tax return information?

Tax return preparers must obtain consent to use tax return information before the information is used and before returns are provided to the taxpayer for signature.  For example:  If a deductible IRA would give the taxpayer a tax benefit, a Consent must be signed before the tax preparer can discuss the options of purchasing an IRA.


Do consents to disclose or use tax return information have expiration dates?

Yes.  The taxpayer and tax return preparer may agree to specify the period of time the consent will be effective and include the period in the consent form.  If no period is specified the regulations state that the consent will be effective for a period of one year from the date the taxpayer signed the consent.

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