IRS Wants to Use Facebook and Other Social Media Platforms to Track Down Tax Cheaters


Facebook is everywhere– the social media platform tracks your location, knows all your contacts, sees your activity online and even offline, and gathers current and past information on you using your profile, preference settings, and personal images.

You already knew all that… and somehow, you’re okay with it.

But what if you found out the government wants to use Facebook to monitor you and possibly prosecute you for being late on your taxes? You’d probably be a bit rattled.

In response to a FOIA request from private businesses, the Internal Revenue Service said it is looking for a tool to help it check social media feeds, blogs, and websites to find out if people are violating the federal tax code.

“Businesses and individuals increasingly use social media to advertise, promote, and sell products and services,” the FOIA response reads. “But the IRS currently has no formal tool to access this public information, compile social media feeds, or search multiple social media sites.”

According to Quartz, businesses in the United States are paying $125 billion less in annual taxes than they should, contributing to a net tax gap of more than $400 billion annually. Current IRS policy prohibits its’ employees looking people up on social media for compliance-related searches, so the agency is looking for a product that will vet people online without becoming an issue in court.

Product demonstrations are due the week of January 28, 2019. The IRS insists you do not have to worry about your rights being violated.

“In addition to respecting taxpayer rights, the IRS will also be mindful that frequently information posted on social media and the internet may be wrong or misleading,” the agency says.

Hmm. Do you feel reassured?

This isn’t the first time Facebook has been suspected of being utilized as a tool for catching tax cheats online. Back in 2014, the agency was accused of possibly using social media-based “predictive analysis”; in other words, a bunch of data collected from yours and others’ social media pages to predict whether or not you have been paying your taxes.

Might want to think twice about that Cabo spring break status update before posting.

Have a tip we should know?

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