Officials Admit Tax Collectors Discriminated Against the Politically Incorrect
- Just in! How the IRS may be keeping tabs on you.
- Six great suggestions for making yourself a less interesting audit target.
Could your political beliefs put you in tax jeopardy?
In May, the Internal Revenue Service admitted that its agents had been singling out dozens of “tea party” and “patriot” groups for special scrutiny. IRS officials apologized for targeting Americans based on their political views, insisting it was only a handful of employees at the Cincinnati office who did so and without official authorization. But a watchdog agency’s report suggests that top IRS officials were aware of what was going on at least since 2011.
The Taxman May Be Prying into
Your Social Network
This scandal calls into question the veracity of IRS claims that it doesn’t peruse Internet social networking sites to select taxpayers for audits. When alternative media outlets reported earlier this year that the agency regularly stalks taxpayers on Facebook, IRS officials insisted that agents don’t check out Internet profiles to determine who gets selected for audits.
But perhaps more tellingly, the IRS did not deny that it uses Internet tools to ascertain personal information about taxpayers under “investigation.” That means that if you are selected for an audit, you should assume that the IRS auditor assigned to you will have Googled you, perused Internet profiles you’ve created using your real name at various sites, and perhaps even attempted to “friend” you on Facebook using a fictitious profile.
Don’t Give Them a Noose
to Hang You With
Obviously, you can lower your profile a great deal by refraining from using social media sites – or at least refraining from doing so using your real name. But if you like to keep connected with friends and family through such sites, be careful about what you post as it pertains to your finances, personal possessions, or political views.
Even if most IRS agents don’t actively seek to persecute taxpayers based on their political beliefs, there is still the potential for them to exhibit bias or prejudice in subtle, undetectable ways.
And even if your tax filings are pure as the driven snow, posting something that could invite scrutiny from the IRS could still create a major audit headache for you. Remember, IRS agents operate on a “guilty until proven innocent” mentality. If you can’t prove that the numbers you report are accurate, line by line, then you are presumed to be in the wrong – even if you did everything right to the best of your understanding.
The problem is, no one understands the law! The tens of thousands of pages of tax code affixing obligations to us anytime we enter an economic transaction might as well be written in a foreign language. They aren’t written for normal human beings to be able to grasp and follow. The impossible compliance burdens will only get worse with a bigger, more intrusive IRS set to enforce provisions of Obamacare (no one knows how exactly how it will be implemented).
If the father of our Constitution, James Madison, could speak from the grave, he would surely scold the White House and members of Congress for imposing such legislative monstrosities on the American people. In his time, Madison wrote, “It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood… that no man, who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow.”
All we can do is try to stay within the bounds of the law as we guess it will be interpreted and keep a low profile to avoid attracting undue suspicions.
Things to Avoid Sharing Publicly
The types of things you should avoid posting online, under your actual name or pseudonyms
traceable to you, include references to:
- Personal precious metals or other holdings in a personal safe or safe-deposit box.
- Flashy, big-ticket purchases (e.g., boat, luxury sports car, jewelry, etc.).
- Interest or holdings in offshore banks or trusts.
- Membership in or support of “Tea Party,” “Sovereign Citizen,” “Patriot,” or other groups.
- Anti-tax or tax protest arguments or affiliations.
- Anything else pertaining to your personal life or finances that you wouldn’t want the government to know about.
“Keep calm and carry on” about such things. It will not only help reduce your odds of attracting the suspicions of a nosey IRS agent; it will also help reduce your risk of attracting burglars and scam artists.