Supreme Court: Yes, the IRS Can Secretly Obtain Your Bank Records

The Supreme Court has sided with the IRS in a case that involves owing the IRS money, bank records, taxpayer privacy, and notice.

image of the U.S. Supreme Court building
(Image credit: joe daniel price/Getty Images)

The IRS scored a win at the U.S. Supreme Court that could impact your privacy. The court recently released its ruling in Polselli v. IRS, involving whether the agency can access bank records of a taxpayer’s relatives or associates — without notice — to help with tax collection efforts. The Supreme Court’s answer is yes. Under an existing statute, the IRS can secretly probe your bank records and potentially your relatives’ bank records without notice.

“The question presented is whether the exception to the notice requirement applies only where a delinquent taxpayer has a legal interest in accounts or records summoned by the IRS under Section 7602(a). A straightforward reading of the statutory text supplies a ready answer: The notice exception does not contain such a limitation,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the unanimous opinion.

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Kelley R. Taylor
Senior Tax Editor,

As the senior tax editor at, Kelley R. Taylor simplifies federal and state tax information, news, and developments to help empower readers. Kelley has over two decades of experience advising on and covering education, law, finance, and tax as a corporate attorney and business journalist.