Your up-to-the-minute tax resistance news:
- The IRS is giving off a powerful odor of desperation as it enters tax filing season. The agency has a backlog of some fourteen million unprocessed tax returns and other taxpayer correspondence from previous years still to get through. Some taxpayers have complained of getting upsetting notices that the agency had no record of them filing their taxes last year, when in fact their tax return is still sitting in this gigantic pile (or has been lost in the shuffle). Members of Congress, smelling blood in the water, signed a letter demanding that the IRS stop harassing taxpayers in this way. (Memo to Congress: you don’t have to resort to pleading in a letter; the IRS is part of the federal government and you could pass legislation to fix this if you really meant it.) The agency responded by suspending some such taxpayer notices but also noting that by law, if they don’t send certain notices out, they lose the ability to pursue people who actually did fail (or refuse) to file. Meanwhile, the agency is shifting 1,200 employees from their regular duties (like enforcement) to doing data entry so as to try to whittle down this backlog.
- Florida Man is back in the news, this time for using IRS databases to download people’s past tax returns and then filing additional fake returns in their names in order to get fraudulent refunds.
That sort of identity theft and refund fraud has made the IRS eager to tighten up security. They’re under pressure to allow taxpayers to conveniently view their tax statements and other such information on-line in the same way they have come to expect to view their bank accounts, utility bills, and everything else in our digital age. On the other hand, cunning and not-so-cunning fraudsters like Florida Man see such convenient access as a recklessly-guarded vault full of government money ripe for the picking. What is the IRS to do?
Their response was to invite the usual suspects in government contracting to bid on a contract to square the circle and make the problem go away. The winning bidder apparently was military contractor ID.me, and the IRS has begun rolling out their solution and telling users of on-line IRS account services that they’ll need to reenroll with ID.me if they want to continue to access their accounts. However, the rollout has gone poorly. As I noted last month the sign-up process is clumsy, time-consuming, and buggy. It’s also uncomfortably invasive — requiring a face scan and copies of a variety of documents. ID.me sent out a press release claiming that those face scans were only used in a very limited way to verify identity but then had to walk back that claim when it was shown to be untrue. Privacy advocates and people & groups with a host of other concerns have been urging the IRS to reconsider.
- Lincoln Rice, who heads the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC), was interviewed on the Tax Chats podcast.
- Danny Burns’s excellent history of the Poll Tax Rebellion has been released in free text and PDF forms on-line, apparently with the blessing of the author.
- There’s a new NWTRCC newsletter out.
As I noted late last year, the number of Americans who renounced their citizenship hit new highs again. But that’s not the whole story. As it turns out, in order to renounce your citizenship, you first have to appear in person at an embassy or consulate for an “exit interview.” And, with the covid epidemic as an excuse, these offices have been refusing to grant such interviews, meaning that thousands of Americans who would like to formally renounce their citizenship have been prohibited from doing so.
Clarification: the number of Americans who renounced their citizenship hit new highs in , according to numbers released , but it looks like ’s numbers dropped considerably from there, with the unwillingness of embassies to process renunciations being one reason for the drop. ―♇
- The ragtag human guerrilla war against the robot traffic ticket hordes continues, with humans taking robots out of action in the United States, France, Martinique, and Italy and in the United States, Italy, New Zealand, and France in recent weeks.