Social Security numbers make the world of identity theft tax fraud go around. Grifters get them from published lists of dead taxpayers, from stolen medical records — anywhere they can. They use them to steal untold billions from the IRS while creating tax nightmares for the real owners of the numbers.
Public.Resource.Org has discovered that the Internal Revenue Service has posted the Social Security Numbers of tens of thousands of Americans on government web sites. The database in question contains the filings of Section 527 political organizations such as campaign committees. This Section 527 database is an essential tool used by journalists, watchdog groups, congressional staffers, and citizens. While the public posting of this database serves a vital public purpose (and this database must be restored as quickly as possible), the failure to remove individual Social Security Numbers is an extraordinarily reckless act.
What does the IRS have to say for itself? Tax Analysts reports ($link):
The IRS said that the Service is required to disclose approved exemption applications and information returns, and advises groups to not include SSNs on those forms or attachments. According to a statement dated December 19, 2012, on the IRS website, “By law, with limited exceptions, the IRS has no authority to remove that information before making the forms publicly available. Documents subject to disclosure include attachments filed with the form and correspondence with the IRS about the filing.”
Malamud (Carl Malamud of Public.Resource.Org) said that he disagreed with the IRS position that it could not redact the SSNs and that it ran counter to privacy laws and federal guidance protecting the disclosure of personal information.
This level of competence and restraint really makes me want the IRS to regulate preparers more. Oh, and to run the health care system, too.
Since it was revealed in May that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) improperly targeted the tax-exempt nonprofit status of conservative groups between 2010 and 2012, defenders of the beleaguered agency have offered three broad attempts to suppress the growing IRS scandal and put the matter to rest. However, each of these three attempts failed outright, and the scandal continues, with tenacious investigations underway by the House Oversight Committee and House Ways and Means Committee.
Putting all this together it seems reasonable to not revise the general consensus view that worldwide effective corporate tax rates are on-average in the mid-twenties when we are not in the throes of a recession. Moreover, it is important to remember that these broad averages hide a lot of interesting detail. Multinationals in the oil and mining businesses generally pay very high rates. Purely domestic firms generally have an effective rate close to 35 percent. And pharmaceutical and tech companies generally have effective rates much lower than average.
It’s Tuesday, so let’s Buzz with Robert D. Flach!
News you can use. How Not to Commit Tax Evasion (Russ Fox)
Tags: identity theft, tax administration, TaxProf, Kay Bell, Russ Fox, Robert D Flach, Linda Beale, William Perez, Martin Sullivan, Jack Townsend, Donald Marron., Jeremy Scott, Kyle Pomerleau, IRS disclosure scandal, Daily Caller