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H.R. 1226 (ih) To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to prevent the unauthorized inspection of tax returns or tax return information. ...


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        H.R.1226

                       One Hundred Fifth Congress

                                 of the

                        United States of America


                          AT THE FIRST SESSION

          Begun and held at the City of Washington on Tuesday,
 the seventh day of January, one thousand nine hundred and ninety-seven


                                 An Act


 
 To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to prevent the unauthorized 
          inspection of tax returns or tax return information.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Taxpayer Browsing Protection Act''.

SEC. 2. PENALTY FOR UNAUTHORIZED INSPECTION OF TAX RETURNS OR TAX 
              RETURN INFORMATION.

    (a) In General.--Part I of subchapter A of chapter 75 of the 
Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (relating to crimes, other offenses, and 
forfeitures) is amended by adding after section 7213 the following new 
section:

``SEC. 7213A. UNAUTHORIZED INSPECTION OF RETURNS OR RETURN INFORMATION.

    ``(a) Prohibitions.--
        ``(1) Federal employees and other persons.--It shall be 
    unlawful for--
            ``(A) any officer or employee of the United States, or
            ``(B) any person described in section 6103(n) or an officer 
        or employee of any such person,
    willfully to inspect, except as authorized in this title, any 
    return or return information.
        ``(2) State and other employees.--It shall be unlawful for any 
    person (not described in paragraph (1)) willfully to inspect, 
    except as authorized in this title, any return or return 
    information acquired by such person or another person under a 
    provision of section 6103 referred to in section 7213(a)(2).
    ``(b) Penalty.--
        ``(1)  In general.--Any violation of subsection (a) shall be 
    punishable upon conviction by a fine in any amount not exceeding 
    $1,000, or imprisonment of not more than 1 year, or both, together 
    with the costs of prosecution.
        ``(2) Federal officers or employees.--An officer or employee of 
    the United States who is convicted of any violation of subsection 
    (a) shall, in addition to any other punishment, be dismissed from 
    office or discharged from employment.
    ``(c) Definitions.--For purposes of this section, the terms 
`inspect', `return', and `return information' have the respective 
meanings given such terms by section 6103(b).''.
    (b) Technical Amendments.--
        (1) Paragraph (2) of section 7213(a) of such Code is amended by 
    inserting ``(5),'' after ``(m)(2), (4),''.
        (2) The table of sections for part I of subchapter A of chapter 
    75 of such Code 1986 is amended by inserting after the item 
    relating to section 7213 the following new item:
``Sec. 7213A. Unauthorized inspection of returns or return 
          information.''.

    (c) Effective Date.--The amendments made by this section shall 
apply to violations occurring on and after the date of the enactment of 
this Act.

SEC. 3. CIVIL DAMAGES FOR UNAUTHORIZED INSPECTION OF RETURNS AND RETURN 
              INFORMATION; NOTIFICATION OF UNLAWFUL INSPECTION OR 
              DISCLOSURE.

    (a) Civil Damages for Unauthorized Inspection.-- Subsection (a) of 
section 7431 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended--
        (1) by striking ``Disclosure'' in the headings for paragraphs 
    (1) and (2) and inserting ``Inspection or disclosure'', and
        (2) by striking ``discloses'' in paragraphs (1) and (2) and 
    inserting ``inspects or discloses''.
    (b) Notification of Unlawful Inspection or Disclosure.--Section 
7431 of such Code is amended by redesignating subsections (e) and (f) 
as subsections (f) and (g), respectively, and by inserting after 
subsection (d) the following new subsection:
    ``(e) Notification of Unlawful Inspection and Disclosure.--If any 
person is criminally charged by indictment or information with 
inspection or disclosure of a taxpayer's return or return information 
in violation of--
        ``(1) paragraph (1) or (2) of section 7213(a),
        ``(2) section 7213A(a), or
        ``(3) subparagraph (B) of section 1030(a)(2) of title 18, 
    United States Code,
the Secretary shall notify such taxpayer as soon as practicable of such 
inspection or disclosure.''.
    (c) No Damages for Inspection Requested by Taxpayer.--Subsection 
(b) of section 7431 of such Code is amended to read as follows:
    ``(b) Exceptions.--No liability shall arise under this section with 
respect to any inspection or disclosure--
        ``(1) which results from a good faith, but erroneous, 
    interpretation of section 6103, or
        ``(2) which is requested by the taxpayer.''.
    (d) Conforming Amendments.--
        (1) Subsections (c)(1)(A), (c)(1)(B)(i), and (d) of section 
    7431 of such Code are each amended by inserting ``inspection or'' 
    before ``disclosure''.
        (2) Clause (ii) of section 7431(c)(1)(B) of such Code is 
    amended by striking ``willful disclosure or a disclosure'' and 
    inserting ``willful inspection or disclosure or an inspection or 
    disclosure''.
        (3) Subsection (f) of section 7431 of such Code, as 
    redesignated by subsection (b), is amended to read as follows:
    ``(f) Definitions.--For purposes of this section, the terms 
`inspect', `inspection', `return', and `return information' have the 
respective meanings given such terms by section 6103(b).''.
        (4) The section heading for section 7431 of such Code is 
    amended by inserting ``inspection or'' before ``disclosure''.
        (5) The table of sections for subchapter B of chapter 76 of 
    such Code is amended by inserting ``inspection or'' before 
    ``disclosure'' in the item relating to section 7431.
        (6) Paragraph (2) of section 7431(g) of such Code, as 
    redesignated by subsection (b), is amended by striking ``any use'' 
    and inserting ``any inspection or use''.
    (e) Effective Date.--The amendments made by this section shall 
apply to inspections and disclosures occurring on and after the date of 
the enactment of this Act.

                               Speaker of the House of Representatives.

                            Vice President of the United States and    
                                               President of the Senate.

Pages: 1

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