The Treasury Department already makes available similar correspondence in paper format. The released paper documents include letters to and from tax professionals and Congress that involve questions to the Office of Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy, including the Offices of Tax Analysis, Tax Legislative Counsel, International Tax Counsel, and Benefits Tax Counsel.
The weekly release of the paper letters is the result of a May 1973 settlement agreement following a Freedom of Information Act action brought by Tax Analysts. Treasury does not make public correspondence it receives and conducts via e-mail. However, the 1973 agreement contained no restrictions regarding the format of the correspondence.
Access to Treasury correspondence has long allowed practitioners and other tax policy experts to track the concerns of those who are most vocal about the nation's tax policy issues.
In its request to Treasury, Tax Analysts pointed out that much of the world now communicates electronically. And since the same policy reasons for public access apply to tax policy correspondence in paper or electronic format, there should be no reason not to release e-mail correspondence that is comparable to the currently released paper correspondence.
Tax Analysts publisher Thomas F. Field said, "Tax Analysts believes that our request for access to e-mail correspondence is a logical implementation of our 1973 settlement agreement with Treasury. That agreement has worked well for 30 years, and we hope it will be promptly applied to e-mail correspondence between Treasury and outside third parties."
For the terms of the 1973 settlement between Tax Analysts and Treasury, see Tax Notes, June 11, 1973, p. 15.
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Media Release 2003-1