Saturday, January 07, 2006

The IRS and your Political Privacy

This is slightly off-topic but there's always so much noise about how taxes are spent - as if education were a criminal enterprise.

Just Friday, this extremely disturbing article appeared in Tacoma Washington's paper. It talks about the IRS' indirect collection of party preference information from taxpayers. It also talks about a mysterious third-party database housing this data (is this secure and local or maybe outsourced and available for dubious purposes).

You'll notice that Connecticut taxpayers were targeted. Ah, the joys of a Bush presidency.

Read it and weep (I'm out of tears),

IRS tracked taxpayers’ political affiliation

The News Tribune
Published: January 6th, 2006 02:30 AM
WASHINGTON – As it hunted down tax scofflaws, the Internal Revenue Service collected information on the political party affiliations of taxpayers in 20 states.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., a member of an appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the IRS, said the practice was an “outrageous violation of the public trust” that could undermine the agency’s credibility.
...and...
Kelly said Thursday that several IRS employees had complained to the union about the practice. She said IRS officials weren’t even aware of it until she wrote them in late December.

In a letter to Kelly, Deputy IRS Commissioner John Dalrymple said the party identification information was automatically collected through a “database platform” supplied by an outside contractor that targeted voter registration rolls among other things as it searched for people who aren’t paying their taxes.

“This information is appropriately used to locate information on taxpayers whose accounts are delinquent,” he said.

Murray and Kelly, however, remained skeptical. Kelly said the collection of such data was even more troubling because the IRS intends to start using private collection agencies later this year to go after back taxes.

“We think Congress should suspend IRS plans to use private collections agencies until these questions have been resolved,” she said.

According to Murray’s office, the 20 states in which the IRS collected party affiliation information were Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.

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