July 29 (Reuters) - Federal courts in six U.S. states have entered orders allowing the Internal Revenue Service to serve so-called “John Doe” summonses on U.S. banks seeking information about unknown individuals who have used certain credit or debit cards in Norway, the Department of Justice said on Monday.
The orders were issued over the last week in lawsuits filed by the IRS in Minnesota, Texas, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Virginia, and California at the request of the Norwegian government.
Similar requests are pending in additional federal courts in Mississippi, New Hampshire and in a different district in California.
The lawsuits involve 18 financial institutions including approved orders relating to PNC Bank NA and RBS Citizens NA in Pittsburgh, USAA Federal Savings bank in San Antonio, and Prairie Sun Bank in Milan, Minnesota.
The pending court requests also include demands for records from Wells Fargo NA.
The IRS uses “John Doe” summonses to seek information about possible tax fraud committed by individuals whose identities are not known. The tax-collecting agency has made these requests in previous hunts for U.S. tax evaders suspected of hiding money offshore in Swiss bank accounts.
The lawsuits are part of ongoing international efforts to stop tax evasion through the use of foreign accounts, the Justice Department said in a statement.