United States District Court, District of Columbia
August 28, 2003
CHANTE HODGE, HAROLD HODGE, PLAINTIFFS,
INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE, DEFENDANT
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ellen S. Huvelle, District Judge
In this action brought under the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), 5 U.S.C. § 552, plaintiffs challenge defendant's refusal to release the name and address of an individual accused of using Chante Hodge's social security number on his or her 2001 tax return. Defendant moves for summary judgment on the ground that FOIA Exemption 3 protects tax return information from disclosure.*fn1
Summary judgment is appropriate when there is "no genuine issue as to any material fact and  the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The FOIA requires a government agency to disclose all responsive records requested by anyone unless the information sought falls within one of nine statutory exemptions listed under § 552(b). Exemption (b)(3) protects from disclosure records that are "specifically exempted from disclosure by statute [ Page 2]
. . . provided that such statute (A) [requires withholding] in such a manner as to leave no discretion on the issue, or (B) establishes particular criteria for withholding or refers to particular types of matters to be withheld." 5 U.S.C. § 552 (b)(3). The United States tax code provides that "[r]eturns and return information shall be confidential,  except as authorized by this title. . . ." 26 U.S.C. § 6103(a). "That § 6103 is the sort of nondisclosure statute contemplated by FOIA exemption 3 is beyond dispute." Tax Analysts v. Internal Revenue Service, 117 F.3d 607, 611 (D.C. Cir. 1997).
Defendant avers that records responsive to plaintiffs' request were determined to be third-party tax return information. See Declaration of Anne M. Jensen ¶ 5; Declaration of Deborah Lambert-Dean ¶¶ 10-11. That determination is wholly consistent with the tax code, which includes "taxpayer's identity" in the definition of return information. 26 U.S.C. § 6103(b)(2). Plaintiffs have pointed to no part of the tax code that would authorize the release of the third-party tax return information. Defendant therefore is entitled to summary judgment. A separate Order of dismissal accompanies this Memorandum.