UNAUTHORIZED DISCLOSURE OF TAX INFORMATION
Such disclosure under I.R.C. section 6103(b) entitles damages under section 7431(a) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Section 7431 states that:
(a) In general
(1) Disclosure by employee of the United States.--If any officer or employee of the United States knowingly, or by reason of negligence, discloses any return or return information with respect to a taxpayer in violation of any provision of section 6103, such taxpayer may bring a civil action for damages against the United States in a district court of the United States.
. . . .
(c) Damages.--In any action brought under subsection (a), upon a finding of liability on the part of the defendant, the defendant shall be liable to the plaintiff in an amount equal to the sum of:
(1) the greater of:
(A) $1,000 for each act of unauthorized disclosure of a return or return information with respect to which such defendant is found liable, or
(B) the sum of the actual damages sustained by the plaintiff as a result of such unauthorized disclosure, plus...
(ii) in the case of a willful disclosure which is the result of gross negligence, punitive damages, plus
(2) the cost of the action.
"[O]nce return information is lawfully disclosed in a judicial forum, its subsequent disclosure by press release does not violate the Act." Lampert v. United States, 854 F.2d 335, 338 (9th Cir. 1988), cert. denied, 490 U.S. 1034 (1989).
The disclosure of information to a person who is likely to publish that information is relevant in determining the degree of negligence or recklessness involved, not the number of disclosures.