Join 3,572 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Government using Facebook and MySpace to find tax cheats
August 30, 2009 9:49 PM   Subscribe

Tax authorities using social networks to find tax cheats Yet another reason to be careful who you accept a friend request from.
posted by reenum (25 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
... if you're a tax cheat.
posted by robcorr at 10:02 PM on August 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


it never ceases to amaze me that people think they can be a "little bit public" - like one could be a "little bit pregnant"
posted by pyramid termite at 10:20 PM on August 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Fortunately the federal government is to lazy to do this kind of thing, That's why the NSA is building a massive datacenter ($1.8 billion dollars, 65MW of power) where they can text mine to their hearts content.
posted by delmoi at 10:20 PM on August 30, 2009


"Friend request from Andy Uditor? Sure, I'll accept."
posted by boo_radley at 10:26 PM on August 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm just waiting for the Facebook Tax App:

"Compare your tax evasion behavior with your friends! Who under-Freported the most?!?"
posted by disillusioned at 10:30 PM on August 30, 2009


Meanwhile, agents in Nebraska collected $2,000 from a deejay after he advertised on his MySpace page that he would be working at a big public party.

Yeah, fuck that DJ. He's the guy that's been screwing us. Rock On, Gubernment!
posted by tighttrousers at 11:36 PM on August 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yet another reason to be careful who you accept a friend request from.

Don't you think that's being a little disingenuous when the article specifically states that ethics codes forbid tax collectors from friending people or otherwise using any information that's not publically visible?
posted by Rhomboid at 11:43 PM on August 30, 2009


That looks like a bit of sloppy reporting. The quote in the article says: ""Agents are not allowed to 'friend' someone using false information," Mr. Schroeder said. The same ethics rules hold in California, according to a spokesman for the state's Franchise Tax Board." A statement that doesn't mean agents aren't allowed to actively participate on these sites. Which seems to mean if the agents use nothing but true information, and the user friends them, then any information the agents collect via the friending is usable. This is consistent with how law enforcement works.
posted by Mitheral at 12:54 AM on August 31, 2009


Pokes
----------------------------------------
IRS - poke back | remove
posted by srboisvert at 1:21 AM on August 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


Yeah, fuck that DJ. He's the guy that's been screwing us. Rock On, Gubernment!

That DJ is the guy who fails to chip in when the bill comes at the restaurant, and everyone else throws in a few dollars because the total "mysteriously" came up light. He's the guy who says he doesn't want any pizza when your buddies are ordering, pays nothing, and then eats a slice or 2 anyway, because it's "left over."

Except it's not a restaurant or pizza, it's roads, social security, health care, schools, infrastructure, and so forth. Failing to pay your taxes is stealing from the government. Stealing from the government is stealing from the people.

Of course, if he couldn't afford to pay, the IRS is pretty reasonable about helping people make payment plans. But they're just like you and me, they'd prefer people say, "I'm a bit broke right now" instead of dodging and evading them. And of course there's that whole "deductions" thing where the DJ would have owed about $0 in taxes if he really wasn't turning a profit.
posted by explosion at 3:45 AM on August 31, 2009 [17 favorites]


That's why I launder my ill-gotten gains throuhg my series of seemingly legitimate businesses. The IRS will never figure that scheme out!
posted by Pollomacho at 4:41 AM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Failing to pay your taxes is stealing from the government. Stealing from the government is stealing from the people.

Seriously folks, don't forget to pay them taxes on all those things you buy off of craigslist and anything you buy or barter for from that black market of people known as "friends". THOSE ARE HONEST TO GOD ETHICAL LAPSES!!! STEALING FROM THE PEEEEPLE!!!11!
posted by symbollocks at 6:00 AM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Some of those peeeple are government employees in California, who would really appreciate if you paid your taxes so they could be paid real money, because "big banks don't want California IOUs". Taxes don't just go to porkbarrel programs and fat cat politicians, but also a number of little guys. Plus, some of your taxes that go to federal and state levels do come back to local programs. You know, like schools and health care facilities.

On the other hand, I would be interested to hear how those sudden and significant requests of funds impacted folks who thought they had a few thousand dollars more than they now did. Perhaps that's the next news story?
posted by filthy light thief at 6:48 AM on August 31, 2009


That's really cute what you did there, symbollocks. I suppose you're not very interested in use tax and the fact that some people calculate and pay them.
posted by mistersquid at 6:56 AM on August 31, 2009


A friend of mine just had his bank account frozen by the IRS; hmm...he has a Facebook account...is one of our friends a snitch??

Naw, probably they just traced him through an old employer that got audited. And it was probably his own fault for not keeping up with his taxes as a freelancer.

How many Joe Tax Evaders are out there to be caught via FB, I wonder, and how much money are we talking about? Is it anywhere near what is squirreled away in offshore tax havens or just not paid by giant corporations? Cause I'm thinking no. But whatever, IRS, you keep on friendin'.
posted by emjaybee at 7:15 AM on August 31, 2009


Douglas H. Shulman has become a level 18 viking zombie! Find out what kind of undead warrior you are!
posted by shakespeherian at 7:17 AM on August 31, 2009


@emjaybee: swiss acount rulz. no taxez 4 u dood!!1!
posted by Pollomacho at 7:22 AM on August 31, 2009


it never ceases to amaze me that people think they can be a "little bit public" - like one could be a "little bit pregnant"

QFT. I could see this level of naivete in the first couple of years of reporting about people losing their jobs or losing opportunities because of information about them that was freely available online, but seriously, folks: if you post information (including photos) about yourself online linked to your real name, you should expect current/future employers, co-workers, dates, family members, tax/debt collectors, and assorted other people to see it.

You may be very proud of coming in second in that wet t-shirt contest, but do you want the guy in the next cubicle, your next interviewer, your grandma, your babysitter, your child, your boss, your local gossip, or your tax collector seeing it? If not, don't put it online linked to your real identity or with identifying features accessible/visible.

It's that simple. These aren't forensic experts combing through massive data samples to see if HotMom73 is statistically likely to be the same person as Worky McMomperson. They're average Googlers.
posted by notashroom at 10:10 AM on August 31, 2009


These aren't forensic experts combing through massive data samples to see if HotMom73 is statistically likely to be the same person as Worky McMomperson.

Back during the Katrina crisis I was working for the Federal government (not FEMA) making sure that each and every foreign student in the NO area was accounted for and safe and that schools had a contact address where we and the students could relay status updates. In the process I had to gather alternative email addresses for school officials in case servers went down. One official, a nun from a Convent school was very reluctant to give a personal email address until I promised that I would not connect it to her in any way or make it public. The address name of Sister Mary; leatherkitty69.

(for her anonymity I have roughly approximated her nick, but I have not exaggerated it)
posted by Pollomacho at 11:42 AM on August 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


Awesome Pollomacho! A priest bangs an alter boy story is old news, but leatherkitty69 is great once you change the genders!
posted by jeffburdges at 12:25 PM on August 31, 2009


As long as the alter boy is a consenting adult, no harm no foul. Same with Sister Mary Whips and Chains over here!
posted by Pollomacho at 12:43 PM on August 31, 2009


Ah, there are nun so bold as those who haven't heard of alternate web-based e-mail.

This is all OMG PRIVACY but it's really just open-source information gathering, except people don't think of Facebook as an open source. It's not a lot different from the private detectives who video someone on disability going skiing.
posted by dhartung at 1:13 PM on August 31, 2009


swiss acount rulz. no taxez 4 u dood!!1!

Not anymore!
posted by wildcrdj at 4:24 PM on August 31, 2009


OK, add the IRS to the list of groups I'm afraid to make comments about on the Internet.
posted by limeonaire at 7:35 PM on August 31, 2009


Failing to pay your taxes is stealing from the government. Stealing from the government is stealing from the people.

That's precious.
posted by oncogenesis at 1:15 AM on September 1, 2009


« Older Jacques Verg├Ęs has defended Milosevic, Carlos The ...   |   People are starting to get a l... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments