The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Hull v. IRS on Wednesday, August 31, 2011.
The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision. Petitioners are retired employees of US West, Inc. and participants in the US West Pension Plan. According to Plaintiffs’ 2008 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, US West made a submission to the IRS under the Voluntary Compliance Review Program (VCRP) for access to records in which “the company fully described [a problem with some of its payments to US West Pension Plan participants] and requested IRS grant approval to make adjusted pension payments,” which the IRS did. The IRS informed Petitioners that their FOIA request for the pension plan records was a request for “tax records,” which “are confidential and may not be disclosed unless specifically authorized by law.” The IRS would require US West Pension Plan’s written consent before they could consider releasing the information. Petitioners appeal the district court’s decision that upheld the IRS’s determination.
The Court held that the IRS properly withheld the requested information. The IRS “succeeded in carrying its burden of proving that [Petitioners’] FOIA request . . . only sought US West’s return information to which [Petitioners] are not entitled without US West’s consent. Because [Petitioners] have not provided that consent, the IRS properly withheld the requested information.”