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With the issuance of final Treasury Regulations, the IRS will now make available for public review favorable and unfavorable exemption rulings. The IRS for a while now has been making available for public inspection favorable exemption letters issued by the National Office. These rulings are made available for public inspection pursuant to IRC Section 6104 and Notice 92-28. In final Treasury Regulations the IRS has now made clear that unfavorable exemption rulings will also be made available for public inspection.
Historically, the IRS relied on IRC Section 6104 and 6110 and Treasury Regulation Sections 301.6104(a)-1 and 301.6110-1 to withhold from public inspection letter rulings denying or revoking tax-exempt status. However, in Tax Analysts v. IRS, 350 F.3d 100 (D.C. Cir, 2003), the Court determined that parts of Treasury Regulation Sections 301.6104(a)-1 and 301.6110-1 violated IRC Section 6110, and held that the IRS must disclose redacted versions of letters denying applications for exemption or revoking exempt status. In response to the decision in Tax Analysts v. IRS the IRS issued proposed regulations in 2007.
The final Treasury Regulations, published as TD 9581 (77 FR 12202) on February 29, 2012, amend Treasury Regulation Sections 301.6104(a)-1 and 301.6110-1(a) to eliminate the portions of the previous rules that the D.C. Circuit held violated IRC Section 6110. Treasury Regulation Section 301.6104(a)-1 is also amended, so the regulation conforms to other current laws and administrative practices.
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