H.R. 3209, Recovering Missing Children Act

H.R. 3209

Recovering Missing Children Act

Committee
Ways and Means

Date
May 10, 2016 (114th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Tuesday, May 10, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 3209, the Recovering Missing Children Act, under suspension of the rules. The bill was introduced on July 23, 2015, by Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) and was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means, which ordered the bill reported, as amended, on April 28, 2016 by voice vote.

Bill Summary

H.R. 3209 amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow for the disclosure of tax returns and return information to state or local law enforcement agencies who are partnering with a federal agency in investigations of missing or exploited child cases. Current law permits federal law enforcement officials personally and directed engaged in a case of a missing or exploited child to seek an ex parte court order for the disclosure of tax returns and tax return information. An order may be granted if there is reasonable cause that a criminal act has been committed, the return or return information may be relevant, and the return or return information is sought exclusively for use in a criminal investigation or proceeding related to a missing or exploited child.  H.R. 3209 permits the head of a federal agency (or their designee) to disclose returns and return information to officers and employees of state or local law enforcement agencies who are part of a team, and personally and directly engaged, with the federal agency investigating a missing or exploited child case.

Background

Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code provides the general rule that tax returns and tax return information are confidential. A federal agency seeking to enforce a non-tax criminal law must obtain an ex parte court order to receive a tax return or taxpayer return information.  An application for the order can only be authorized by the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General, Assistant Attorneys General, United States Attorneys, or an attorney in charge of an organized crime strike force.[1]

A judge or magistrate may grant an ex parte application if it is determined that:

  • There is reasonable cause to believe that a specific criminal act has been committed;
  • There is reasonable cause to believe that the return or return unformation is or may be relevant to a matter relating to the commission of such act;
  • The return or return information is sought exclusively for use in a Federal criminal investigation or proceeding concerning such act; and
  • The information sought reasonably cannot be obtained, under the circumstances, from another source.[2]

In an application is granted, the information may be disclosed to officers and employees of the federal agnecy who are personally and directly engaged in the preparation for any judicial or administrative proceeding, any investigation which may result in such a proceeding, or any federal grand jury proceedings pertaining to the enforcement of such a criminal statute.

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[1] See Joint Committee on Taxation, Description of H.R. 3209, the Recovering Missing Children Act (JCX-37-16), April 27, 2016 at 2; 4.
[2][2] Id at 4.

Cost

A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate is currently unavailable. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that enacting H.R. 3209 will have no revenue effect on federal fiscal year budget receipts for the 2016-2026 period.[1]

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[1] See Joint Committee on Taxation’s Description of an Amendment in the Nature of  Substitute to the Provisions of H.R. 3209, the “Recovering Missing Children Act” (JCX-38-18) April 27, 2016.

Additional Information

For questions or further information please contact Jake Vreeburg with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 50190.