of Title 26 (specifically, Section 6103) of the tax code, there was no explicit recommendation to amend this act. Nevertheless, the panel’s view on the topic was clearly expressed by a section titled “Inability to Share Business Lists: An Embarrassment to the Federal Statistical System.”
A more recent CNSTAT report, Expanding Access to Research Data: Reconciling Risks and Opportunities (National Research Council, 2005b), includes a detailed discussion of CIPSEA and specifically points to the need for changing Section 6103 (p. 23):
A key element in the Census Bureau’s data is its business register, which is constructed with data from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). However, without new legislation (to amend Title 26 of the U.S. Code, which governs access to IRS tax data), the business register and associated data cannot be shared with BEA and BLS.
Many organizations have weighed in with positions supporting amendment of Section 6103 of the tax code. In response to a congressional request, the Administrative Conference commissioned a team of tax experts headed by Charles Davenport to study the operations of the IRS. The result was the Report on Administrative Procedures of the Internal Revenue Service, October 1975, to the Administrative Conference of the United States (Davenport, 1976), which included a section reviewing the history and rationale for tax return access for statistical purposes. The report concluded that “it appears that the use of tax data by Census, though not consistent with revenue administration, is a use which can be considered beneficial and is one which does not appear to have any undesirable side effects” (p. 880). The study came to a similar conclusion for BEA but not for the Statistical Research Service (SRS) of the Department of Agriculture. The key distinguishing factor for the commission was that the Census Bureau and BEA were strictly statistical agencies and did not engage in activities related to other functions of the department. Still, the commission recognized that SRS had statistical activities but determined that the statistics it collected “for policy making by the agency of which it is a part.”
In 1979, the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO, now the Government Accountability Office) issued a report identifying efforts by the Census Bureau to create a centralized business register for use by other statistical agencies. That report, After Six Years, Legal Obstacles Continue to Restrict Government Use of the Standard Statistical Establish List, supported changing Section 6103; its findings were summarized as follows (title page):
The Census Bureau has developed the Standard Statistical Establishment List, a comprehensive list of businesses in the United States. Many Federal