Using the I.R.S. to Profit from Identity Theft

Some bits and pieces from here and there:

  • We tend to think of the IRS mainly as the government’s tool for taking money from us, but these days it’s also one of the primary ways the government distributes money to people and corporations. Naturally, freelance crooks would like to get their hands on some of this officially stolen loot, and so I’m seeing more and more reports of organized tax fraud — the numbers after the dollar-sign, the number of people involved, and the brazenness of the schemes all seems to be increasing, as more people think, “the government bailed out the big guys — why not me?” Alas, many of these schemes involve filing fraudulent returns using someone else’s identity, then cashing in the “refund.” In such cases, the IRS tends to react by sending its enforcement branch after the victim of the identity-theft. Elaine Silvestrini of the Tampa Tribune listened well to some of these victims recently and found they were telling “maddening stories of fighting a seemingly malevolent bureaucracy whose employees were unaccountable and either overwhelmed, incompetent or rude.”
  • The government of Spain recently amended the country’s constitution for the first time since 1992 in order to mandate deficit-cutting austerity measures and to give the repayment of government debt priority over other spending. There have been widespread protests, and one group has called on Spaniards to “exercise the right of rebellion.” The constitutional amendment, they say, was “dictated by international capital and enacted behind the backs of the people” (translation mine):

    Our commitment is to the common good, and for this reason, following our legitimate duty as citizens, we declare ourselves rebels to the constitution, insurrectionary to the State, and disobedient to all authority that it represents. For this reason we declare ourselves citizens of the popular assemblies and the assemblies of postcapitalist projects in which we participate. It is in this way that we exercise our sovereignty.

    We pledge to do everything that is in our power to construct a new, popular power that enables a new society where the decisions will be actually realized by the people.

    We understand that after the great outpouring of indignation the best way to regain our dignity is by means of rebellion.

    We understand that with our dignity comes our ability to disobey laws that are unjust and/or contrary to the benefit of the people.

    Therefore, we commit ourselves to the call to begin and extend an action of complete tax resistance against the Spanish state and those who control it, with consequent action to demonstrate that we will not pay “their debts,” because we do not recognize this constitution. A tax resistance that serves to fund the popular assemblies, and from these, giving “absolute priority” to participatory funding of the resources that we really consider public.

    Because the situation that we are experiencing in the Spanish state is common to many countries worldwide, and because the ruling economic powers are global, we encourage human beings around the world to assert their right of rebellion by means of manifestos like this.

    Tax resistance was one of the civil disobedience strategies that raised India to independence from the British Empire; now it may be a key strategy for the independence of all from global capitalism.

    We have already passed the stage of indignation, now we are a new insurgent fellowship!

    I like the sound of that a lot more than anything I’m hearing coming out of the Wall Street protests these days.
  • Matt Yglesias penned a sobering speculation that one result of the difficulty the United States has had in coming up with a way to deal with its prisoners of war that is not medieval in its barbarity, is that now it prefers just to assassinate — finding a “take no prisoners” policy easier on the reputation.