Wednesday, March 22, 2006

"We Just Bought Your Tax Info...Wanna Buy A Car?"

Seems IRS thinks you need even less privacy:

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

The change is raising alarm among consumer and privacy-rights advocates. It was included in a set of proposed rules that the Treasury Department and the IRS published in the Dec. 8 Federal Register, where the official notice labeled them "not a significant regulatory action."


The proposed rules, which would become effective 30 days after a final version is published, would require a tax preparer to obtain written consent before selling tax information. Critics call the changes a dangerous new breach in personal and financial privacy.


IRS spokesman William M. Cressman defended the proposal in similar terms. "The heart of this proposed regulation is about the right of taxpayers to control their tax return information. The idea is to emphasize taxpayer consent and set clear boundaries on how tax return preparers can use or disclose tax return information," Cressman said in an e-mail response to questions.

Cressman said he was unable to explain "why this issue has come up at this time other than our effort to update regulations that date back to the 1970s and predate the electronic era."

On the other hand, IRS also included a reg change which would require your explicit permission to have your return processed overseas, a protection which would be new.

So in the future, you could get a call from "Julie" in Bangladesh who will not only offer to assist you with your Windows problem, but will also sell you a nice new set of windows.

Double pane...

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