IRS Employees Caught Snooping On Tax Returns

from the nice-to-see-someone's-checking dept

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).

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Comments on “IRS Employees Caught Snooping On Tax Returns”

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James says:


“Somewhat comforting”… actually its somewhat-f**king-AMAZING that they caught this at all (and even admitted it no less). I’m not sure whether to be relieved or surprised.

My guess is many of the folks who work there, who have access to this information, have the same attitude as cops or people in other positions with potential for abuse.. they are “ABOVE” it. The rules do not apply to them.

Tom The Toe says:

Checking Out The Documents

They probably use a vault system. If you look at a document it checks it out to you under your name. Some vaults even notify a supervisor if you check out a document you are not supposed to see. All the ins and outs of each document is kept in a locked log file for management to review so they can see who is looking at what.

Hulser says:

Of course it’s disturbing that IRS employees are snooping into people’s tax return info, but what I find even more disturbing is the fact that someone is dumb enough to believe that “TV-movies” accurately portray American life. What, this guy saw an episode of CSI where someone hacked into a computer and leapt to the conclusion that all IRS data are public?

(When I lived in Australia, people would ask me if life was really as violent in the US as they see on TV and in the movies. My stock answer was that Hollywood is as accurate about portraying American life as they are about portraying Australian life or any other country. Having answered questions about kangaroos walking in the streets of downtown and why they weren’t dressed like Crocodile Dundee, most of the time, that was all the answer they needed.)

sea ronin says:

Systems Audits

I once worked with SSA. In recent years after a breach of security by an employee the data systems were redesigned that if a person entered the file of a case not assigned to that worker, alarms went off and supervisors were notified almost immediately. We had to justify in writing why the incident occured. Curiosity didn’t was not acceptable. SSA has it fairly well in control.

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