Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 22, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

YOU DON'T MIND IF WE SEND YOUR 1040 FORM TO YOUR CREDIT CARD COMPANY, DO YOU?....Say what?

The IRS is quietly moving to loosen the once-inviolable privacy of federal income-tax returns. If it succeeds, accountants and other tax-return preparers will be able to sell information from individual returns or even entire returns to marketers and data brokers.

....Critics call the changes a dangerous breach in personal and financial privacy. They say the requirement for signed consent would prove meaningless for many taxpayers, especially those hurriedly reviewing stacks of documents before a filing deadline.

"The normal interaction is that the taxpayer just signs what the tax preparer puts in front of them," said Jean Ann Fox of the Consumer Federation of America, one of several groups fighting the changes. "They think, 'This person is a tax professional, and I'm going to rely on them.' "

The IRS was unable to explain why this regulation had suddenly been proposed. Their spokesman just shrugged and suggested it was routine housekeeping to keep up with the electronic revolution. Sure it was. H&R Block, unsurprisingly, "did not respond to requests for comment."

Welcome to George Bush's IRS. Your whole life is now for sale as long as it benefits someone who's a Republican campaign contributor.

Kevin Drum 1:44 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (105)

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Comments

My life for sale, and someone benefits (?).

I now have purpose!

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on March 22, 2006 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

When do I get my cut of the cash ?

"...We don't have news, we have stories inspired by current events..." - Stirling Newberry

Posted by: daCascadian on March 22, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

It will be a lot easier when each citizen has "Papers". You know, where the police come up to you and ask for your papers. All financial, medical, political, and other information will be contained therein.

At least the trains will run on time.

Posted by: Hedley Lamarr on March 22, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

This is why I proposed that the GOP just start selling their votes on EBay.

Cut out the middle-man, cut out all this "democracy" bullshit. EBay will even tell us who bought their vote, so we can do away with the FEC.

If you're gonna sell it then sell it!
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on March 22, 2006 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

I saw absolutely nothing in that article that implied that this had anything to do with Bush or the Republicans, or that anything would have happened differently if Kerry was president.

Is the "Bush" thing just a hardwired response now?

Posted by: tbrosz on March 22, 2006 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Is the "Bush" thing just a hardwired response now?
What do you mean, "now"? You've been hanging here longer than that. Bush has been the root of all evil since the beginning of time, everything evil that predates GW was done merely in anticipation of him.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 22, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Mark W. Everson was confirmed by the U. S. Senate on May 1, 2003, to be Commissioner of Internal Revenue. Mr. Everson is the 46th commissioner since the agency was created in 1862. Mr. Everson was appointed by President Bush to a five-year term.

from here

stop being stupid, tbrosz

Posted by: danelectro on March 22, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

I saw absolutely nothing in that article that implied that this had anything to do with Bush or the Republicans, or that anything would have happened differently if Kerry was president.

Damn straight. It's mere coincidence that it happened while Bush is occupying the White House. In fact, a recent Heritage Foundation study proves that, statistically speaking, this measure could just as easily have begun during the administration of Grover Cleveland.

Posted by: sglover on March 22, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

I saw absolutely nothing in that article that implied that this had anything to do with Bush or the Republicans, or that anything would have happened differently if Kerry was president.

Damn straight. It's mere coincidence that it happened while Bush is occupying the White House. In fact, a recent Heritage Foundation study proves that, statistically speaking, this measure could just as easily have begun during the administration of Grover Cleveland.

Posted by: sglover on March 22, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

The IRS is quietly moving to loosen the once-inviolable privacy of federal income-tax returns. If it succeeds, accountants and other tax-return preparers will be able to sell information from individual returns or even entire returns to marketers and data brokers.

Great move. Now people can be more adequately informed by companies of new products they may need. Companies will be more informed so that they more accurately target potential customers and so customer and the American people will be better served by businesses.

Posted by: Al on March 22, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

Except there was no income tax under Cleveland.

I'm all for this measure, but I think the IRS should be mandated to negotiate the best possible price for tax returns. Eventually we might be able to fund the entire federal government on the advertising revenue from selling tax returns. Maybe we could post them online and harvest the clickthrough revenue.

Oh, except that K Street will quickly have an amendment tacked on in conference committee that forbids the government from negotiating higher prices for the tax returns. Oh well. It was an ugly fantasy while it lasted.

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 22, 2006 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter H&R Block:

"Your tax return belong to us."

Posted by: David W. on March 22, 2006 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

sglover: In fact, a recent Heritage Foundation study proves that, statistically speaking, this measure could just as easily have begun during the administration of Grover Cleveland.

Bwa!

Brosz, remember that IRS commissioner you didn't vote for? He was appointed by the guy whose name you punched (checked, pressed, touchscreened). Just before you circled said name with hearts and flowers.

Posted by: shortstop on March 22, 2006 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Scariest. President. Ever.

Posted by: Doofus on March 22, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

What do you mean, "now"? You've been hanging here longer than that. Bush has been the root of all evil since the beginning of time, everything evil that predates GW was done merely in anticipation of him.

Oh, no! They're doing it troll-style!
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on March 22, 2006 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, I can see that there's not a lot of point in being rational about this.

For the record, H & R Block's PAC has donated roughly equal amounts to Republicans and Democrats for years.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 22, 2006 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

If we don't benefit the Republicans, all you cut-and-runners will have us wearing burkas!

Just WIN, baby!

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on March 22, 2006 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Not to pick nits, but back in the day of Grover Cleveland, there was no such thing as Income Tax. People forget that Income Tax is a relatively recent thing.

Posted by: charlie don't surf on March 22, 2006 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I'm glad I do my own taxes.

Posted by: MJ Memphis on March 22, 2006 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

I just bought Al's 1040 from 2004. He worked a lot of hours at Wal-mart that year! :-)

Posted by: Robert on March 22, 2006 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, I can see that there's not a lot of point in being rational about this.

You honestly wouldn't know how to be rational about Bush, tbrosz, so why don't you just spare us your bullshit?

Posted by: teece on March 22, 2006 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Does TurboTax count as a tax preparer for purposes of selling your data?

Posted by: paul on March 22, 2006 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Under the rule of the corporatist ReThuglicans, everthing about you, including your DNA is for sale, by them, to the highest bidder.

You don't like it? You're a Commie. But not a good Chinese-type Commie, an old Soviet-type Commie.

Posted by: Cal Gal on March 22, 2006 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Within the confines of the helmet, do your posts sound reasonable, Tom? Because out here, they sound overwhelmingly desperate and grasping.

Posted by: shortstop on March 22, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

"This is why I proposed that the GOP just start selling their votes on EBay."

That's pretty funny, but why buy or sell votes when they can just steal them. It's cheaper and more fun for GOP!

Posted by: Trish on March 22, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Should make identity theft that much easier too.

Posted by: ckelly on March 22, 2006 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

A quick call to a friend who works at the IRS revealed that he didn't know about this before today either, although he said that's not too surprising since it doesn't directly impact his work as an auditor. He also suggested that, since the formal comment period is over, anyone who wishes to comment should attend a public hearing on 6 April at 10:00 AM at IRS headquarters in Washington. Yes, he knows almost nobody can do that. He suspects that's the point of how much of the political bureaucracy works (if he learned nothing else from his time as my roommate in college, he learned to be cynical... I'm so proud).

The original Federal Register notice, as reposted on the IRS website, is here as IR-2005-139.

BTW, this isn't the first we've heard of this proposal. It's part of the same push Rep. Markey was making noise about last autumn, but this detail got lost in most of the press coverage.

Posted by: R. S. Buchanan on March 22, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

I saw absolutely nothing in that article that implied that this had anything to do with Bush or the Republicans, or that anything would have happened differently if Kerry was president.

Is the "Bush" thing just a hardwired response now? Posted by: tbrosz

Because the politicization of the IRS is well- documented. Why do you think they start harassing churchs that are anti-war from the pulpit, threatening them with audits and revoking their tax status, but happen to ignore the right wing "Christians" that are pro administration from the pulpit?

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-allsaints7nov07,0,6769876.story?coll=la-home-headlines

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A19082-2004Jun30.html

Do try and stay up with current events, T-Bone. Otherwise, go over and be ignorant at Instadunce or LGF.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 22, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

As a tax accountant, I think this proposal is utter stupidity.

Just what we need, another reason for people to distrust their accountant, on top of the Enron/Arthur Anderson mess.

Colin

Posted by: Colin on March 22, 2006 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop:

Within the confines of the helmet, do your posts sound reasonable, Tom? Because out here, they sound overwhelmingly desperate and grasping.

Really? Go down one of the larger threads sometime. Which side sounds the most hysterical? Who generates the most obscenities and personal attacks?

Did anyone actually look at the rule change itself, or was the opinion of consumer interest groups enough for them?

Welcome to George Bush's IRS. Your whole life is now for sale as long as it benefits someone who's a Republican campaign contributor.

Does this statement really reflect the known facts?

Posted by: tbrosz on March 22, 2006 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Except there was no income tax under Cleveland.

I don't think there were many credit cards and data miners during his term, either. Sarcasm, get it?

Posted by: sglover on March 22, 2006 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Tom, I think you forgot to answer my question in the teacher salary thread: Did you go to a public university?

Posted by: shortstop on March 22, 2006 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

For the record, H & R Block's PAC has donated roughly equal amounts to Republicans and Democrats for years.

Furthermore, Gen. Wesley Clark aspires to the Presidency on the Democratic ticket. Which pretty much explains why Iraq hasn't quite lived up to Dear Leader's PR.

Jay-Zus Waffle-Huffing Key-Rist, tbrosz, you're your own parody.

Posted by: sglover on March 22, 2006 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Did anyone actually look at the rule change itself, or was the opinion of consumer interest groups enough for them?

That works for me, since I am a consumer but I am not a large buyer of consumer data.

Shorty: saw your welcome in the other thread. Thanks for that. Will be drifting in and out...

Which side sounds the most hysterical? Who generates the most obscenities and personal attacks?

Do cries of "treason", "traitor", and other similar attacks count?

Posted by: craigie on March 22, 2006 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Tom, I think you forgot to answer my question in the teacher salary thread: Did you go to a public university?

Went to the University of Minnesota, worked my way through. Degree I got has nothing at all to do with what I'm doing now. Now you can claim a great moral victory, I suppose.

Again, for people who dish out a great deal of crap, largely in my direction, even the mildest joke sets your pants on fire. I almost added a little ;) at the end of the original statement. I probably should have.

None of you saw what the real issue was on the education thread: Centralized control of an issue that needs many different solutions.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 22, 2006 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

oh, poor tommy boy, ever the victim.

For the record, H & R Block's PAC has donated roughly equal amounts to Republicans and Democrats for years.

no source, link, or specific numbers--particularly the numbers in more recent years. Thanks again for nothing!

Posted by: haha on March 22, 2006 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

MJ Memphis: Well, I'm glad I do my own taxes.

Me, too! Is there no end to the Bush Administration nightmare? I'm beginning to think...not.

Obama objected officially by letter to IRS Commissioner Mark Everson by warning "once in the hands of third parties, tax information could be resold and handled under even looser rules than the IRS sets, increasing consumers' vulnerability to identity theft and other risks."

Say, let's buy tbrosz' tax return data. We know your name, Tom.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 22, 2006 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

"once in the hands of third parties, tax information could be resold and handled under even looser rules than the IRS sets, increasing consumers' vulnerability to identity theft and other risks."

First of all, not "could be" but "would be".

Second, and much more important - I object to the idea that I exist only as a potential resource for businesspeople, and that any and all obstacles that keep them from trying to sell me shit I don't need, must be removed.

Does it make me some kind of Libertarian to say that I just want to be fucking left alone by commerce? If I want a good or a service, I will seek it out, thank you very much. Any other activity directed at me is harassment, and I object.

Phew, now I feel better. Kinda.

Posted by: craigie on March 22, 2006 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

This is just another example of tommy boy's phoney libertarianism--a real libertarian's first reaction would be outrage that such a program is even being considered, as opposed to tommy's predictable "stop blaming Bush because nothing bad is ever his fault!"

Posted by: haha on March 22, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz: I saw absolutely nothing in that article that implied that this had anything to do with Bush or the Republicans, or that anything would have happened differently if Kerry was president.

Is the "Bush" thing just a hardwired response now?

Wow, that was dumber than usual, Mr. Brosz. Note, for instance, that this did not happen under Clinton's Administration. Or prior administrations. No, it is happening under the Bush administration, at the direction of a Bush appointee.

A) The government doesn't just happen. People run it. Those people make choices, such as to allow Americans' tax returns to be handed over to private companies.

B) The people making those choices are people put in power by Bush, who are responsible to him, and do his bidding.

Would this have happened under a Kerry administration? Unlikely, but who cares - theoretical wrongdoing by someone else does not somehow excuse actual wrongdoing.

I mean, really. You make some dumbass comments sometimes, and this is a shining example thereof.

Posted by: S Ra on March 22, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

It's not our moral victory, Tom, but your everlasting moral degeneracy that keeps us coming back for more.

I think I speak for everyone here when I say thank you--THANK YOU--for day after day braving the unjust taunts, rude barbs and constant persecution that come your way just so you can share your truth with us. We're all better for your courageous testimony, Tom.

Posted by: shortstop on March 22, 2006 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

Would this have happened under a Kerry administration? Unlikely, but who cares - theoretical wrongdoing by someone else does not somehow excuse actual wrongdoing.

theoretical--is that like the typical "sure the Republican controlled congress spends more than any other in history, has the highest debt and deficits...but it would certainly be worse with Democrats because I say so" response that I read so often from the wingnuts and various other Bush sycophants?

Posted by: haha on March 22, 2006 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop:

I guess you're more comfortable with Jay and the others.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 22, 2006 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

Did anybody actually read the article?

It says that it can only be sold if you sign a form allowing them to sell it.

Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill.

Posted by: DR on March 22, 2006 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Again, for people who dish out a great deal of crap, largely in my direction, even the mildest joke sets your pants on fire. I almost added a little ;) at the end of the original statement. I probably should have. Posted by: tbrosz

Why would that have made any difference? Luntics and homicidal maniacs often smile whilst going about their business. Furthermore, since you are as predictable as rain in Seattle on the 4th of July, the post fits perfectly into your profile as a right wing tool.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 22, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

I guess you're more comfortable with Jay and the others.

LOL! The e-mail address is right, but it has to be a tbrosz parody. Tom, you sound about six years old right now. Are you actually pushing out your bottom lip and beetling your brows, or is that just in my mind?

The Brosz Philosophy: Better my kind of pure crap than Jay's! And Dems are worse than either of us!

Posted by: shortstop on March 22, 2006 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

...as predictable as rain in Seattle on the 4th of July...

Wait, is that true?

Speed-dialing United to change plans...

Posted by: shortstop on March 22, 2006 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

Here's the Federal Register for December 8, 2005, [E57018] from the main page (cite) that contains:

2. Section 301.7216-2 Permissible Disclosures or Uses Without Consent of the Taxpayer

A snippet follows...

Sec. 301.7216-2 Permissible disclosures or uses without consent of the taxpayer.

(a) Disclosure pursuant to other provisions of Internal Revenue
Code.
(b) Disclosure to facilitate electronic tax administration.
(c) Disclosures or uses for preparation of a taxpayer's return.
(d) Disclosures to other tax return preparers.
(e) Disclosure or use of information in the case of related
taxpayers.
(f) Disclosure pursuant to an order of a court, or an
administrative order, a demand, summons or subpoena which is issued in
the performance of its duties by a Federal or State agency, the United
States Congress, a professional ethics board, or the Public Company
Accounting Oversight Board.
(g) Disclosure for use in Treasury investigations or court
proceedings.
(h) Certain disclosures by attorneys and accountants.
(i) Corporate fiduciaries.
(j) Disclosure to taxpayer's fiduciary.
(k) Disclosure or use of information in preparation or audit of
State or local tax returns or assisting a taxpayer with foreign country
tax obligations.
(l) Payment of tax preparation services.
(m) Retention of records.
(n) Lists for solicitation of tax return business.
(o) Producing statistical information in connection with tax return
preparation business.
(p) Disclosure or use of information for quality or peer reviews.
(q) Disclosure to report the commission of a crime.
(r) Disclosure of tax return information due to a tax return
preparer's incapacity or death.
(s) Effective date.

More...

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 22, 2006 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

..as predictable as rain in Seattle on the 4th of July...

Wait, is that true?

Speed-dialing United to change plans... Posted by: shortstop

Duh! Everyone knows that summer officially begins in Seattle on July 5th. If I had a nickel for everytime I've had to wear a coat to watch the fireworks . . .

Well. okay. It would still only be about $1.50, but you get the idea.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 22, 2006 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

I guess you're more comfortable with Jay and the others.

Can I just support young Tom here? He has many flaws, but compared to the rest of the crazies that come in here, he is head and shoulders more reasonable and readable. Plus, as I've said before, he serves a useful function in this ecosystem - one which is not served by Jay and Charlie and the rest.

So beat up his ideas, sure, but leave the man himself alone.

Posted by: craigie on March 22, 2006 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter H&R Block:

"Your tax return belong to us."

Yeesh...with all due respect, David W., it should be "All your tax returns are belong to us."

Posted by: Gregory on March 22, 2006 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

So beat up his ideas, sure, but leave the man himself alone. Posted by: craigie

Why? A man is, ultimately, nothing but the sum of his ideas. There really is no such thing as an ad hominem argument. If you are spouting junk you are junk. Besides, T-Bone's supposed to be a good right winger all full of accountability and such. Therefore, T-Bone, and not someone else, is responsible for the nonsense that he writes.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 22, 2006 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, I can see that there's not a lot of point in being rational about this.

Shorter tbrosz: Everyone else must be as much of a partisan hack as I am.

Hey, tbrosz, rationally speaking, would you agree that the Republicans' insistence on deficit spending is more irresponsible than the Democrats' preference for paying for goverment spending with tax revenue?

Posted by: Gregory on March 22, 2006 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

I thought I was beating up on his ideas, craigie, which in the last couple hours have included:

-leveling sweeping charges of irrational Bush hatred at people justifiably upset at this IRS plan, then claiming his is the only face of reason around here
-crying piteously about his own victimhood at our hands when I called him on a cheap shot he took earlier in another thread
-lashing out with a 3,000-foot quantum leap (yes, I know I'm misusing that term) between my complaint about Tom's behavior and my alleged personal endorsement of Jay

Can you show me where I attacked the man rather than his ideas? I'll take my medicine if it's warranted. I don't see it right now.

Posted by: shortstop on March 22, 2006 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

So, since the trolls are defending Bush, can we assume that it's now Republican Dogma that our most private financial details should be available to anyone who wants to pay for them? I think, given their mockery, that silence means assent here.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on March 22, 2006 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, Backstop, you heard the new Neko Case? Really good.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 22, 2006 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

So beat up his ideas, sure, but leave the man himself alone.

craigie, one thing I've always been willing to give tbrosz is that he's shown he can debate honestly. It's to his shame, though, that so often he chooses not to. I see no reason he should be given a free pass for his constant straw man arguments, intellectual dishoensty and general bullshit just because he generally at least proofreads his posts.

And his self-pitying performance here is a true classic. Here's a clue, tbrosz: Your bullshit is greeted with the scorn and derision it deserves. Shame on you.

Posted by: Gregory on March 22, 2006 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

University of Minnesota

Would it be rude to ask which campus?

Posted by: Tripp on March 22, 2006 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

This could be a solid gold gift to the democrats.

Campaign Theme: We support your privacy and will not allow your private tax return information to be sold to anyone including sleazy telemarketers.

Will the democratic party use this? Probably not. They want the money more than they want to win.

Posted by: i'm not myself anymore on March 22, 2006 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

well.... I think it was a combination of these remarks:

Say, let's buy tbrosz' tax return data. We know your name, Tom.

I guess you're more comfortable with Jay and the others.

the post fits perfectly into your profile as a right wing tool.

I mean, Lord knows that tbrosz can be, and mostly is, intellectually dishonest. And he's certainly made me pull my hair out with some of his misdirection. But maybe it was just the fact that this was a particularly large and quick dog pile on tbrosz that made me go "hmmm". Either that, or I'm just going soft...

Anyway, ignore me. Carry on, troops.

Posted by: craigie on March 22, 2006 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

craigie, TOM was the author of this remark:

I guess you're more comfortable with Jay and the others.

JeffII: Nuh-uh, not yet. You recommend, huh?

Posted by: shortstop on March 22, 2006 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK


This was Markey's release in Dec.

"When I first raised concerns about the privacy issues concerning the outsourcing of tax preparation services back in February 2004, Commissioner Everson indicated that the IRS shared my concern about these practices and was committed to protecting taxpayers from having their confidential financial information compromised. Today, the IRS is taking an important step to fulfill that commitment by proposing regulations that would require the taxpayer's affirmative consent to be obtained before any tax preparer could outsource information to a foreign entity. This requirement should help ensure that taxpayers retain control over who gets access to sensitive personal information about their finances, since consumers are unlikely to agree to have their tax returns sent to countries with weak privacy protections. I commend Commissioner Everson for taking my concerns about this matter seriously and for ensuring that the IRS takes the lead in protecting taxpayer's privacy rights."

This is Markey's press release just today:

March 22, 2006- Concerns Over Possible Sale of Tax Information
WASHINGTON, D.C. Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA) co-chair of the House of Representatives Privacy Caucus released the following statement in response to press reports about a possible change in tax regulations that would allow tax preparers to sell information from returns:


Come April, Americans have no choice but to submit, along with their taxes, a great deal of personal information to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Phone numbers, social security numbers, salary, investment income, childcare information, mortgage interest payments, and medical expense information all pass through the hands of government workers and tax preparers. In the information age these identifiers are powerful keys to the medical files, bank accounts and family lives of millions of Americans. During tax season taxpayers have no choice but to hand over these keys, said Rep. Markey.

Markey continued, Americans trust that the IRS will safeguard their personal lives they expect that IRS oversight of tax preparation will protect them. But recent reports of some changes to the tax regulations suggest that tax preparers could with consent sell information to anyone. The IRS has suggested to my office that their regulations have been misinterpreted, and that the regulations do not significantly expand the ability of tax preparers to disclose taxpayer information to others, and that the major challenge for the IRS was, and still is, ensuring that any consent is informed and not coerced. I hope that the IRS moves quickly to clarify this matter.

The potential for mischief in this area is infinite, especially if tax preparers see a new opportunity for a profit-making enterprise using tax payer data for purposes other than completing a full and accurate tax return. The government is forcing this information to be divulged in the first place it has a heightened responsibility, therefore, to ensure that it is not misused.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has hearing scheduled on April 4 for the vetting of these new tax regulations.



Posted by: Bethie on March 22, 2006 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

craige, tbrosz also accused the Bush critics here, on more than one occasion, of "rooting for America's defeat in Iraq." When I challenged him to provide a single post that would support his characterization, he simply snorted that it's "obvious." Furthermore, while tbrosz generally avoids profanity, his constant straw man arguments and general intellectual dishonesty, as well as his refusal to acknowledge or address criticism of his posts unless he feels like it, is insulting in its own way. I realize that it's nigh-impossible to defend the mendacity, incompetence and corruption of the Bush Administration honestly, but no one's forcing tbrosz to carry water for them.

And then he has the temerity to complain of the lack of collegiality here! Without an admission he ws wrong and a profuse apology for his insulting behavior, he deserves none.

Posted by: Gregory on March 22, 2006 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

JeffII: Nuh-uh, not yet. You recommend, huh?
Posted by: shortstop

Yup. I thought you being in Chicago and all that you'd be all over it, New Pornographers, too. I also highly recommend the not so new Franz Ferdinand and Interpol.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 22, 2006 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

I've been a bit out of the Loop, so to speak, Jeff. Busy winter with health issues and work and travel and wasting time arguing with people on blogs. I have the semi-new FF, though.

Posted by: shortstop on March 22, 2006 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

craigie, TOM was the author of this remark:

I'm aware of that, my darling. I was just responding to the fact that, if I had to choose, I would rather have to bat away tom's, um, logic, than Jays. Perhaps, being a lefty, I was feeling sorry for tom on his behalf.

I seem to be stranding myself on the wrong side of lots of these threads lately, don't I?

Ok, Tom, you're on your own. My work here is done...

Posted by: craigie on March 22, 2006 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

Infantile positions beget infantile responses -

When one's remarks reek of Meism and Igotmineism, then may the infantile comments descend upon the pocket gopher.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on March 22, 2006 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

I saw absolutely nothing in that article that implied that this had anything to do with Bush

Why don't we look at other agencies under this administration and see if political interference with the agencies' mandates is perhaps a trend?

Why yes it is! We have:

appointees at NASA withholding conclusions on climate data and even misstating studies;

appointees at the EPA deciding to walk away from cases against polluters that it's already won;

the Department of the Interior giving away huge swaths of public land to corporations at ridiculous prices and fighting with states who don't want to permit mining and drilling;

historically incomparable no-bid gifts in the form of contracts to Halliburton and Bechtel by the Army, then firing the and censuring the whistle-blowers who exposed fraud and corruption on the part of those companies;

Enron being invited to set up an office to interview and select the next head of the agency that was going to regulate their activities --

-- and on and on and on.

All of these examples are the exact opposite of how these agencies were run in the last administration and antithetical to their missions -- which is why so many high-level people in them have publicly quit in disgust.

It just goes on and on and on, with former lobbyist wolves being appointed to head the henhouse of agencies that are designed to protect and conserve our national resources and ideological kooks being placed in important positions in scientific agencies.

It truly is mendacious to ignore the issue of tax returns being made available to the highest bidder and instead toss in red herrings about this being SOP.

At some level, Jay is better, because as wrong-headed as he is at least he has the integrity to believe in the stuff he spouts.

tbrosz is simply a dishonest hack.

Posted by: Windhorse on March 22, 2006 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

Wow! CNN just did a decent segment on these issue. I bet we will hear more about it if cable news has picked up on the story and with the IRS deadline coming up.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 22, 2006 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

Say, let's buy tbrosz' tax return data. We know your name, Tom.

Yeah, I said it. I guess I could have added, [/sarcasm], for it convey properly without being misread as intimidation...to drive the point of the insanity of minimizing ( a regular tbrosz behavior) what these regs mean in terms of being able to buy tax return data on people in the future. That's all. Sheesh. As for beating up on the man, see Gregory at 4:31 PM.

3rd Paul,
I have to get out my dictionary and history books to follow along. Thanks for the education.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 22, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

And Gregory at 4:54 PM,

Word.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 22, 2006 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, craigie,

You most certainly did not deserve the ruthless attack that was made on you personally on one of the censure threads, IIRC. Sorry that happened and it was unwarranted and ugly. Your a witty fella and I'm glad you have the liberal heart you do. No worries.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 22, 2006 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

you're...not your... sheesh.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 22, 2006 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Thanks for the alert. I just called my Congress turkey, and mailed letters of objection to two Congresspersons and both Texas Senators. Even if they ARE Republicans.

This has to be STOPPED!

Posted by: Rick B on March 22, 2006 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

Hedley,

You won't need papers. All of that data will be on a computer chip about the size of a grain of rice which is inserted into your body.

Think not? This is already a security device that allows you access to certain locations. Two years ago, the Mexican Federal Police required it of some top officers. Now it is for sale to banks and other security sensitive organizations here in the States. No more need for an Iris scan. Just walk through the door and your data is read surreptiously. If you don't have the chip, the door ahead closes, as does the one behind you.

This is the same chip which veterinarians have been inserting in animals for over a decade already. Only the programming on the chip and the scanners are not ubiquitous. (Yet. I don't think. If I ran a jail or prison, everyone in it would have one inserted. Including the guards.)

Papers? We don't need no steenking papers. Your chip already gave you away!

Posted by: Rick B on March 22, 2006 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

Throz,

Who has appointed all the top "suites" in the IRS? Who does the IRS report to? Same answer to both. Bush. This is all Bush all the time. He is fully responsible for this crap.

Posted by: Rick B on March 22, 2006 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

Throz,

Who has appointed all the top "suits" in the IRS? Who does the IRS report to? Same answer to both. Bush. This is all Bush all the time. He is fully responsible for this crap.

Posted by: Rick B on March 22, 2006 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

Holy cow! Another segment on CNN. Lou Dobbs did an in-depth segment on this issue as the "best democracy money can buy." And yes, Rick B has the right idea of complaining to our congresscritters. Stop! And stop it now.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 22, 2006 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

Apollo 13 -

Thanks for that. I appreciate it.

Posted by: craigie on March 22, 2006 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

Brooksfoe

This isn't to allow the ~IRS~ to sell info on taxpayers. The is to allow H&R Bolck to sell the information. Do you really think that H&R Block will share the revenue stream?

Forget it. This is more giveaway to the wealthy and large corporations. Nothing else. Taxpayers will still provide ALL funding for the IRS.

Posted by: Rick B on March 22, 2006 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

Throz,

Cut the crap.

This isn't from Congress. This is the Executive Department which belongs (regretabily) to Bush and his corporations. It fucking does not matter who gave what to which Congressturkey in this case. This is a politically driven administrative decision - which, fortunately, requires publication through the rules of IRS administrative rule-making.

Congress isn't going to like this. That includes the Republicans. They just haven't heard about it yet.

For the rest of you - WRITE YOUR CONGRESS-TURKEY AND SENATORS and any other legislator you might influence. Remember, a written letter counts to them as at least a dozen real voters if not more.

Also, call the local legislative office. That goes into a different column in statistics, and adds to the pressure.

Posted by: Rick B on March 22, 2006 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

For conservatives who claim to believe in "smaller government" and "less government intrusion," this is the height of hypocrisy!! Under the current administration, there has been more government intrusion in the affairs of average Americans and less spending and concern for the real needs of Americans.

The incompetence and gross callousness of this administration is appalling and, without adequate, effective oversight from Congress, deeply troubling to our security, as individuals and as a nation.

Those who delve in identity theft will be helped
--not hindered--by this administration if this abomination isn't stopped before it's too late.

Posted by: Jesse A. Weissman on March 22, 2006 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK

MJ Memphis

Fine that you do your own taxes. I do too, and not through Jackson Hewitt, my occasional employer. But I send them electronically. They go through H&R Block, since I use TaxCut. That gives them the right to sell my info. Or yours. This will also give Intuit a new revenue stream. (But they also have used methods of copy protection that damage your hard drive, so I no longer use them.)

This probably applies to all the methods offered by the IRS, since those use contractors.

Which makes a good protest to be mailing in paper tax returns. That is a lot less efficient for the IRS. All electronic tax returns go through civilian contractors who will get revenue from this rule proposal.

Only the taxpayers (required by law to file) will lose here.

Posted by: Rick B on March 22, 2006 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

Paul

Yes. Turbotax is a such a tax preparer for purposes of selling your info.

Both TurboTax (Intuit) and TaxCut (H&R Block) take your 1040 data into their own computers, then one time per day forward it to the IRS. This is also done by all tax preparers.

So, yes, if you use ANY tax preparation software AND use electronic transmission, your data is elegible for sale under this rule.

Posted by: Rick B on March 22, 2006 at 8:23 PM | PERMALINK

R.S. Buchanan :

Really good post.

Just to let you know what you said was read and evaluated.

To the rest of you, click on his name above and read it.

Posted by: Rick B on March 22, 2006 at 8:30 PM | PERMALINK

Throz,

Are you paid for this crap you post, or do you simply do it out of your own idiocy?

This is non-partisan. This is about how much power the IRS - and its contractors - have. Even your CPA.

Remember, you (and I) are required BY LAW to file income tax forms each year. Is your privacy of no value to you? This rule states that ANY tax preparer can sell your tax info to Data Brokers.

Unless you do your taxes yourself, and ~mail~ the forms in, that means anyone who knows your tax situatation can sell the information to Data Brokers.

I am fully capable of doing my own taxes and mailing them in myself. Are you? I am also retired. I have the time to do it, and it won't matter to what is really important in my life. But I am a professional tax preparer.

How much control are you willing to give to anyone who wants to buy your financial data? Right now anyone who wants to can get a background report on you for about $35. But they don't know your income tax info. If this rule passes, then they will.

Throz, why in fuck would you accept this level of government and corporate intervention in your life? THIS IS TOTALLY BEYOND THE PALE!

If you don't recognize it, then you already have the chip in your shoulder that gives your medical and financial history.

Feel free. But I am part of the rebellion, and a Life Member of the Nationsl Rifle Association.

Posted by: Rick B on March 22, 2006 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

"Which makes a good protest to be mailing in paper tax returns."

I've been doing this for years anyway. Handwritten no less. But my returns aren't hugely complicated (I do itemize, but don't have anything crazy in there), so they probably don't hate me *too* bad at the IRS.

Posted by: MJ Memphis on March 22, 2006 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

That's it...no more e-file for me, at least at the Federal level.

I really wish the IRS had a direct e-file, as California (my home state) does. But I suppose Intuit, H & R Block and the others wouldn't like that. And we can't have THAT, now can we?

Posted by: sfbehr on March 22, 2006 at 9:04 PM | PERMALINK

craigie,
You're very welcome.

Rick B,
Props for all your posts.

Read the regulation, folks. What this permission to sell or use our personal tax return data also indicates is the overreach of this administration into our private and financial lives.

You might consider getting your tax preparer to sign a nondisclosure agreement with you and/or provide a letter stating that you do not authorize a disclosure of your tax return without your expressed written consent and snail-mailing your return this year. Maybe one of our legal eagles can weigh in.

Jeso Pete, you can't trust the Bushies one second. I wonder if Grover Norquist and the Americans for Tax Reform and other anti-tax groups would qualify under (p) Disclosure or use of information for quality or peer reviews of the Permissible Disclosures or Uses Without Consent of the Taxpayer? Cripes! I dunno but this is really spooky stuff. Here's an excerpt from the CNN/Lou Dobbs transcript:

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Your tax returns are in many ways a map of your entire life. How much you make, your medical cost, charitable donations. It's all there. An Internal Revenue Service proposal would allow tax preparers to sell that information to marketing companies and data brokers.
BETH GIVENS, PRIVACY RIGHTS CLEARINGHOUSE: I think this is a shockingly bad idea, to allow tax preparers to sell these very sensitive documents. The information contained tells a lot about us, about our families.
SYLVESTER: The IRS ironically claims that its doing this to improve consumer protections. The agency argues that it would require consent before tax returns could be sent overseas for processing or disclosed to third parties.
In a statement, the IRS commissioner said, "The heart of this proposed regulation is about the right of taxpayers to control their tax return information." But many consumers could unwittingly sign away their privacy.
PETER SWIRE, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: The permission here is fake permission. The accountant sets all the little tabs out there and little red tabs and says sign here in all these places. And then you sign the consent and your record is now being sold to a database company.
SYLVESTER: It's hard to see why consumers would want to have their information sold.
BETH MCCONNELL, PENN. PIRG: I think it's incredibly significant, not only given the epidemic of identity theft that affects more than 9 million Americans every single year, but also just the barrage of marketing and advertising that consumers are already having a hard time controlling.
SYLVESTER: Consumer groups say for individuals, there's nothing to gain by having their records sold and everything to lose.
(END VIDEOTAPE)
SYLVESTER: H&R Block did not return our calls for comment on this story. And there's a real sense that the IRS was trying to fly this one in under the radar. It called the change not a significant regulatory action, although most taxpayers would probably beg to differ, Lou.
DOBBS: Well, it is under the heading of, you can't make this stuff up. The Internal Revenue Service saying that we would be sharing our personal tax information to protect the privacy of our tax information. It's Orwellian. It's breathtaking and we thank you, Lisa Sylvester. [Transcript]

Orwellian and un-American!

Write your congresscritters and call them, too. Enough already!

Thanks, Kevin, for the early warning.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 22, 2006 at 10:06 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Throz,

Does that mean you learned nothing of value? Do you understand what is written here?

"None of you saw what the real issue was on the education thread: Centralized control of an issue that needs many different solutions."

You missed it. The real issue here is financial privacy. "Many diferent solutions" do not apply to the issue of privacy. Total security of the information given to the IRS does.

I don't care what the "solutions" are. I want the information I give to the IRS (under law) to be totally protected from others.

Posted by: Rick B on March 22, 2006 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

Apparently I have missed it. What is Throz's real name? "Tom" what?

Posted by: Rick B on March 22, 2006 at 11:42 PM | PERMALINK

Rick B,

His name is Tom A. Brosz. I think it was craigie who unearthed his identity. I've got to find the thread to be sure.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 23, 2006 at 12:04 AM | PERMALINK

Yep, craigie outed Tom. See this thread here. Tom admits it's him on another thread somewhere...that the Darth Vader costume was dress-up for his kids, Halloween, IIRC, and perfectly understandable for a dad.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 23, 2006 at 12:21 AM | PERMALINK

And here is where tbrosz explained the Darth Vader image and his contract work. Haven't found the thread when someone was dogging him for the Darth Vader look and he explained he did it for his kids. But that ought to catch you up for the most part, Rick B. See you around.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 23, 2006 at 12:45 AM | PERMALINK

Nobody "outed" me. I posted a link to my bio page here long ago, including links to the web pages of the companies I do contract work for. I've never gone out of my way to pretend to be someone else, use a fake name, hide behind someone else's name, or try to hide what I do for a living. In retrospect, that may not have been a good idea.

I don't like the idea of my IRS data being tossed around, and don't plan on signing any consent form to do so--unlike the constituency of these consumer groups, who apparently are considered too stupid to avoid signing it. I don't particularly like the government having my personal data either, since things like income tax audits have a way of being political weapons.

If the Congress gets riled and tightens up the rules again, I'm fine with that.

My objection to the post had less to do with the tax rule change issue than the unfair and baseless attacks that accompanied it.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 23, 2006 at 2:13 AM | PERMALINK

Throz,

I worked for Jackson Hewitt. When a question popped up that did not effect the final cost of the return, I automatically answered "Yes" for the customer rather than spend the time asking and explaining it to them.

At the end of the return it cost them nothing and saved me time. I was paid for how many returns I finished in a given time. If I asked such a qestion I would have to spend the time to explain the ramifications, so I just (silently) answered the computer "Yes" and went on.

Being paid on comission and working with the public, you snswer those quesions which are obvious without asking them. If they don't change the final tax due, they don't matter, and the time to explain them does. So you don't bug the client with such isses that might require (time-consuming) explanations. You just answer "yes" and go on. No one ever questions you.

No, I dsn't persoaally take such short cuts, and it costs me. But this proposed rule is really bad.

Posted by: Rick B on March 23, 2006 at 3:45 AM | PERMALINK

A13: BTW, craigie,

You most certainly did not deserve the ruthless attack that was made on you personally on one of the censure threads, IIRC. Sorry that happened and it was unwarranted and ugly. Your a witty fella and I'm glad you have the liberal heart you do. No worries.

Having been away for the past several weeks, I've just now caught up on this. Apollo is absolutely right--that attack was wholly out of line.

Perhaps a very small minority of readers don't find craigie's wit and wisdom as orgasm-inducing as I do (their loss, for obvious reasons), but to confuse laugh-to-keep-from-crying humor with love of complaining, plus accuse craigie of demanding that Kevin cover/not cover craigie's own topics of choice, is just ludicrous. A lot of the latter goes on here--see any light-hearted thread for copious evidence--but craigie ain't a perpetrator.

Nice, too, that the posts were so courageously anonymous. It was obviously the same person "agreeing" with his own hysterics.

Look, if someone doesn't like a regular poster's contributions, scroll over them--I do it every day, and it's not that hard.

Posted by: shortstop on March 23, 2006 at 7:12 AM | PERMALINK

My objection to the post had less to do with the tax rule change issue than the unfair and baseless attacks that accompanied it.

tbrosz, as many commentors here have pointed out, you have failed to establish that the attacks were "unfair and baseless." Repeating your assertions while ignoring their earlier rebuttals is yet another example of your intellectual dishonesty -- something else you make no effort to hide. Shame on you.

Posted by: Gregory on March 23, 2006 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

Look, if someone doesn't like a regular poster's contributions, scroll over them--I do it every day, and it's not that hard.

I've suggested that the comment format be changed to put the name of the commentor at the top, to facilitate skipping the bullshit posted by Charlie/Cheney/Don P and the rest of the Bush fluffers. I even think it'll cut down on feeding the trolls.

Posted by: Gregory on March 23, 2006 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

An interesting twist on displaying posts would be to sort validated email ids to the top, above a "fold" marker. Trolls and those who don't want to put their names to their comments would still appear -- the "beloved" tradition of speaking anonymously would be honored -- but they'd be marked.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on March 23, 2006 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

My objection to the post had less to do with the tax rule change issue than the unfair and baseless attacks that accompanied it.

no shit, nothing takes top priority in your book over defending Bush, no matter how reprehensable the policy.

"Hey, they want to sell my tax return to anyone who wants it? No big deal, but don't you dare hold Bush responsible! I don't care if it's his IRS commissioner!"

Posted by: haha on March 23, 2006 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

I don't particularly like the government having my personal data either, since things like income tax audits have a way of being political weapons.
Posted by: tbrosz

Oh, gee. I thought you said that didn't happen?

Posted by: Jeff II on March 23, 2006 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

tbrosz, as many commentors here have pointed out, you have failed to establish that the attacks were "unfair and baseless." Repeating your assertions while ignoring their earlier rebuttals is yet another example of your intellectual dishonesty -- something else you make no effort to hide. Shame on you.

"Welcome to George Bush's IRS. Your whole life is now for sale as long as it benefits someone who's a Republican campaign contributor."

You know what? Kevin's post would have been just as informative without that last dig on the end. It just irritated me. I pointed out that the original article said nothing about who proposed this, or why it was in there. I pointed out that H & R Block, given as an example, gives equally to Democrats and Republicans. There is your "baseless." If anyone bothered to actually look into it, return preparers have been allowed to sell this information for years with client permission. It just got somebody's attention now that the rules for getting permission have been clarified.

As usual, this kind of analysis is pretty much useless around here. Easier just to drop some leftist boilerplate on this board and watch the commenters leap on it like a bass on a frog. As I said in my first post, it does seem to be hardwired.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 23, 2006 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin's post would have been just as informative without that last dig on the end. It just irritated me.

Of course, tbrosz, the dig at your hero Bush ittitated you. That hardly excuses your hackery, though, does it?

I pointed out that the original article said nothing about who proposed this, or why it was in there.

Which doesn't change the fact that the rule is, indeed, in effect under George Bush's IRS.

I pointed out that H & R Block, given as an example, gives equally to Democrats and Republicans. There is your "baseless."

But it isn't baseless at all, tbrosz. And I notice you aren't defending your claim of "unfair" at all, are you? Shall we presume you concede it was bogus, then? Thanks.

If anyone bothered to actually look into it, return preparers have been allowed to sell this information for years with client permission. It just got somebody's attention now that the rules for getting permission have been clarified.

Clarified to the benefit of corporations at the expense of taxpayers. Baseless, you were saying? Pull the other one.

As usual, this kind of analysis is pretty much useless around here.

tnrosz, your kind of bullshit analysis is pretty much useless anywhere.

As I said in my first post, it does seem to be hardwired.

And as I said in my response, you presume everyone else is as much of a hack as you are.

You have indeed failed to establish that the attacks were "unfair and baseless." Repeating your assertions -- with an generous side helping of accusing other posters of the kind of blind partisan hackery you perpetrate on a regular basis, including this thread, including your last comment -- while ignoring their earlier rebuttals is yet another example of your intellectual dishonesty. Shame on you.

Posted by: Gregory on March 23, 2006 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

You know something else, brosz?

Kevin's post would have been just as informative without that last dig on the end. It just irritated me.

Kevin's job is not just to be informative without taking the digs at your tax-cutting hero Bush that you find so irritating. It's his blog, and he's free to take all the digs he pleases. That's the difference between a blogger and the news media you so regularly, and falesly, accuse of presenting liberal bias.

If you don't like Kevin's digs, and can't refute them (and you certainly have failed so far), you certainly have the option of taking your intellectual dishonesty elsewhere. Spewing a bunch of bullshit in the name of "breaking up the echo chamber" is a discourtesy I'm sure we could all do without.

Posted by: Gregory on March 23, 2006 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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