This is the first article in the Freedom Of Information Act Requests (FOIAs) and Government Data Practices Act Requests (GDPAs) series. This series is intended to provide taxpayers and practitioners with answers to the most commonly asked questions relating to the use of FOIAs and GDPAs. The use of FOIAs and GDPAs allow taxpayers and practitioners to recover information from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Minnesota Department of Revenue (MDR) and use that information to resolve their case.

The simplest question relating to FOIAs and GDPAs is also the most important: Why submit a FOIA or GDPA?

There are a number of reasons to submit a FOIA or GDPA, below are some of the more common reasons for taking that step:

  1. Understand why the IRS or MDR made the decision it made.
  2. Discover documents the IRS or MDR collected in its investigation.
  3. Discover interviews the IRS or MDR conducted during its investigation.
  4. Uncover IRS or MDR misunderstandings of the facts or the law.
  5. Understand the Process the IRS or MDR followed during its investigation.

The overarching goal of all of the above reasons is to better understand the IRS or MDR. Essentially, FOIAs and GDPAs allow a taxpayer or practitioner to have a “peek behind the curtain” and better understand the IRS or MDR. This can be incredibly helpful.

Better understanding the IRS or MDR allows the taxpayer or practitioner to focus the case at hand and ensure that the on-going negotiations address the issues that are actually important in that case. Too often, the roadblock to resolving a case is that the parties are unknowingly focused on different issues. Having a more focused approach significantly increases the chances that the taxpayer or practitioner will be able to successfully resolve their case.