Yesterday was tax day in the U.S. Its safe to say that many people scrambled until the very last minute to make sure that they filed their taxes. Everyone wants to go through this process without being audited, people who don’t pay taxes obviously never want to get audited. Even if tax evaders use all kinds of methods to hide from the IRS, they might put themselves in trouble if they continue to show off intimate details about their life on social networks. A new report suggests that the Internal Revenue Service might monitor social media accounts of people it suspects to be tax evaders.
The logic behind this makes sense. A lot of people like sharing details about their lifestyle on social media networks. So if someone has been posting a lot of vacation pictures lately or tweeting about how awesome their new car is, chances are that the IRS could be watching. Apparently its piecing together likely profiles or likely candidates that may require a closer review through data mining. Since it loses an estimated $300 billion a year to tax evasion and due to budget cuts doesn’t have as many auditing agents that it did back in the ’80s, one can understand why the IRS is turning to data mining.
As previously mentioned, it may not be looking into everyones social media accounts, only those that it suspects. While the IRS doesn’t normally comment about its methods, Marketplace hears from several sources that its ramping up data mining to get more information than it already has, which includes health records, banking transactions and social security numbers.
Behnam Dayanim, co-chair of data practice and privacy at Paul Hastings, suggests that people can trying tightening privacy settings on all of their social media accounts to keep the IRS from looking it. Presumably it only has access to public information, so simply avoiding posting what you wouldn’t want the IRS to see could work too.
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