April 2006

It’s time to call 9-1-1 about an IRS proposal to change Section 7216 of the Internal Revenue Code.

"Two wrongs don't make a right, but three left turns do." --Jim Hightower


Whenever the Bushites revise regulations, you can bet that the revisions do the exact opposite of what the regulatory title claims they do. In this case, the change is titled: “Regulations to Safeguard Taxpayer Information.” Uh-oh. This can’t be good. Our friendly IRS quietly issued this little gem on December 8, cleverly lumping it in with a set of new rules that the agency labeled “not a significant regulatory action,” hoping that no one would notice.

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Fortunately, watchdog groups didn’t buy the ruse. When they actually read IRS’s proposed “safeguards,” they were startled to find that this regulation would authorize giants like H & R Block or any other tax preparer to sell the contents of your private tax-return to any corporation wanting to buy it! All of your personal contact information – including your Social Security number – could be sold, as well as information about your income, employer, medical expenses, children, charitable donations, etcetera.

Who’s pushing this crass sell-off of our privacy? There’s a powerful lobby of data brokers such as Choicepoint, credit companies like MasterCard, and dozens of marketers who want to use your 1040 filing to target you for sales. In the shadows, of course, identity thieves lurk, eager to raid the computers of data firms and grab your tax return as a one-stop shopping bonanza.

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Oh, tut tut, says the head honcho of IRS – your data will not be sold unless you sign a form authorizing your tax-preparer to do it. But this so-called “consent” can be shuffled in with the stack of forms you have to sign to complete your filing, or it can be reduced to fine-print, boiler-plate language that no one reads.

This is Jim Hightower saying… Our tax-return information should not be sold. Period. To help fight it, call 202-546-9707.

Sources:
“Enough Already; Don’t Share Tax Data,” Austin American-Statesman, March 27, 2006.
“Is Your Tax Information For Sale,” Find Law, April 3, 2006.
“Consumer Privacy and Identity Theft,” Penn PIRG, April 5, 2006.
“IRS Proposal Would Allow the Sale of Consumers’ Tax Returns,” Penn PIRG, March 20, 2006.
“IRS proposal would release taxpayer info,” Newsday, 2006.
“Tax Information Could Be Shared,” CNN, April 3, 2006.
“IRS explains “sale” of data,” Internal Revenue Service,” April 1, 2006.

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