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


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                                                        Calendar No. 39

105th CONGRESS

  1st Session

                               H. R. 1226

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 AN ACT

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

_______________________________________________________________________

                             April 17, 1997

             Read twice and ordered placed on the calendar
                                                        Calendar No. 39
105th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                H. R. 1226

                   IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

                             April 16, 1997

                                Received

                             April 17, 1997

             Read twice and ordered placed on the calendar

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 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.

            Passed the House of Representatives April 15, 1997.

            Attest:

                                                ROBIN H. CARLE,

                                                                 Clerk.

Pages: 1

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