Last week, in writing about the Italian government's defense of its decision to put everyone's tax returns
online for everyone else to see, we noted the bizarre statement by the official who made the decision: "In the USA, tax filings are already public, check any American TV-movie and you'll see." This totally false statement didn't get much play in the American press (someone in the comments suggested
that maybe it seemed so unbelievable that the press thought he was joking). However, as if to make it painfully clear how false this statement actually is, five IRS employees have been charged for snooping on tax returns they were not authorized to look at
. While it is a little troublesome that IRS employees were able to do this in the first place, it's at least somewhat comforting that the IRS's auditing system seems to be able to catch people doing this, even when they're only looking at a very small number of unauthorized returns (each worker only looked at one to four unauthorized returns).