IRS: All your e-mails are belong to us

posted at 12:41 pm on April 11, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

If the IRS pledged to tax spammers, we might not mind them snooping through our e-mail without a warrant.  Unfortunately, the IRS thinks it can read your e-mail without getting a judge’s signature on a warrant mainly because they say so, the ACLU discovered after a FOIA request that finally bore fruit yesterday:

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has claimed that agents do not need warrants to read people’s emails, text messages and other private electronic communications, according to internal agency documents. …

In a 2009 handbook, the IRS said the Fourth Amendment does not protect emails because Internet users “do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such communications.” A 2010 presentation by the IRS Office of General Counsel reiterated the policy.

Under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986, government officials only need a subpoena, issued without a judge’s approval, to read emails that have been opened or that are more than 180 days old.

If that sounds a little strange to you, you’re not alone.  The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals heard the same argument from police in a case that hinged on accessing e-mail, and ruled that it violated the defendant’s constitutional rights.  Even after that ruling, the IRS refused to recognize the decision:

Despite the court decision, U.S. v. Warshak, the IRS kept its email search policy unchanged in a March 2011 update to its employee manual, according to the ACLU.

In an October 2011 memo obtained by the ACLU, an IRS attorney explained that the Warshak decision only applies in the Sixth Circuit, which covers Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.

The Boston Globe reports that the IRS won’t even say whether it will honor Warshak in those states:

Recognizing that people now regularly store email in the cloud indefinitely, a federal court in U.S. v. Warshak needed probable cause to compel a company like Google to hand over access.

Here’s the kicker: The IRS won’t say whether it now applies the privacy protections inWarshak to its investigations. Sometimes, what isn’t said can mean more than what is.

Google announced earlier this year that it will refuse to cooperate without a warrant, and the ACLU wants the IRS to take the hint:

A number of major email providers, like Google, have announced that they always demand a warrant from law enforcement in criminal investigations. In lieu of that, some other providers only require lesser court orders or subpoenas that do not require the government to show probable cause that someone has committed a crime. Members of Congress recently renewed their efforts to change the 1986 email privacy law to require a warrant. But until then, the ACLU would like the IRS to act on its own and always use a warrant.

“Let’s hope you never end up on the wrong end of an IRS criminal tax investigation,” Nathan Freed Wessler, an ACLU staff attorney, wrote in a blog post. “But if you do, you should be able to trust that the IRS will obey the Fourth Amendment when it seeks the contents of your private emails.”

The US Constitution was written to constrain the power of the federal government, and that is especially true of the Bill of Rights.  This just reminds us of the wisdom of the founders, and the perpetual vigilance required for liberty.

Addendum: In case you wonder about the strange syntax in the headline, here’s the origin.  I didn’t notice the reference to it in Wreck-It Ralph; I’ll keep an eye out for it when I see it again.

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The USSR wasn’t as bad.

Schadenfreude on April 11, 2013 at 12:42 PM

Goebbels is wet, all over, on-going.

Schadenfreude on April 11, 2013 at 12:43 PM

The USSR wasn’t as bad.

Schadenfreude on April 11, 2013 at 12:42 PM

That’s because back then email was a postmarked letter from Eastern Europe.

Shy Guy on April 11, 2013 at 12:46 PM

Am I paranoid, or are regular emails already instantly and routinely accessible to voyeuristic outsiders?

Seth Halpern on April 11, 2013 at 12:47 PM

Bush!

Del Dolemonte on April 11, 2013 at 12:47 PM

IRS-”All your email are belong to us”
MSNBC-”All your child are belong to us”
White House-”All your life are belong to us”

Thanks America!

Zaggs on April 11, 2013 at 12:48 PM

If we got rid of the 17th Amendment and replace it with a national sales tax we wouldn’t even NEED an IRS. Nor would anyone ever have to fill out a tax return.

That sound you just heard was the sound of H&R Block and the multibillion dollar tax compliance industry experiencing a stroke.

The fact that such an industry EXISTS is proof that our tax code violates the Constitution.

wildcat72 on April 11, 2013 at 12:49 PM

The IRS…accountable to anyone?

Nope.

BTW, if you call or write the IRS and ask a tax question, and they give you an answer…they cannot be held responsible if their answer results in your being audited, fined, sanctioned or charged with tax fraud.

As for the emails…around here in the Ohio-Michigan area the rumor is they may be going after internet businesses, and eBay transactions and the like, since so many around here have dropped out of the labor pool but somehow are managing to make ends meet. Can’t crash into eBay’s systems…yet…but those pesky post-transactional emails…appear to the IRS to be fair game.

That whole expectation of privacy thing…what a load of crap…but, this is the new Amerika, folks…seems the progressives have won.

For now.

coldwarrior on April 11, 2013 at 12:49 PM

IRS-”All your email are belong to us”
MSNBC-”All your child are belong to us”
White House-”All your life are belong to us”

Thanks America!

Zaggs on April 11, 2013 at 12:48 PM

That’s why they have to destroy the second Amendment. Because the Patriot’s answer to all that is “all my bullets are belong to YOU”.

wildcat72 on April 11, 2013 at 12:49 PM

As for the emails…around here in the Ohio-Michigan area the rumor is they may be going after internet businesses, and eBay transactions and the like, since so many around here have dropped out of the labor pool but somehow are managing to make ends meet. Can’t crash into eBay’s systems…yet…but those pesky post-transactional emails…appear to the IRS to be fair game.

That whole expectation of privacy thing…what a load of crap…but, this is the new Amerika, folks…seems the progressives have won.

For now.

coldwarrior on April 11, 2013 at 12:49 PM

The logical answer to this is to open up the e-mails of everyone who works for the IRS. There’s no expectation of privacy, after all, and don’t those jackboots (in theory at least) work for us anyway?

wildcat72 on April 11, 2013 at 12:51 PM

Nathan Freed Wessler, an ACLU staff attorney, wrote in a blog post. “But if you do, you should be able to trust that the IRS will obey the Fourth Amendment when it seeks the contents of your private emails.”

When has the IRS ever worked in the interest of those it supposedly serves (i.e. the citizens of the US)?

O/T: I got my taxes done the other night. At the end, the preparer asked, “Do you have Health Insurance?” At first I was dumbstruck. “Why would he ask me that?” I wondered. It was then i realized, John Roberts is correct. Obamacare IS a tax!

Mitoch55 on April 11, 2013 at 12:51 PM

If defunding IRS a possibility, or they are self-financing, kinda?

Archivarix on April 11, 2013 at 12:52 PM

The USSR wasn’t as bad.

Schadenfreude on April 11, 2013 at 12:42 PM

That’s because basically none of today’s tech existed. The clumsy, crude wiretaps they had on their substandard phonelines only worked worth a darn because people were often too afraid to get rid of them even if they knew they were there.

(Though not always – there’s a missionary story about some brave children finding a bug, burying it, and jumping on the dirt.)

MelonCollie on April 11, 2013 at 12:53 PM

Hope and Change, yessir this is a NEW DAY of grand visions, receding seas, cleaner air, and the feds either monitoring your every word or smashing you to a pulp with a drone strike. Good times.

Bishop on April 11, 2013 at 12:54 PM

That’s because back then email was a postmarked letter from Eastern Europe.

Shy Guy on April 11, 2013 at 12:46 PM

Yes, I know, but the thought that it happens in the US is dire.

Schadenfreude on April 11, 2013 at 12:54 PM

The IRS is the mafia government’s enforcer. Like other criminal enterprises, they make up their own rules as they go. And don’t forget, the IRS is the designated enforcer for ObamaCare as well.

We need to stop thinking Democrat and Republican, and start thinking Big Government vs. Small Government politicians. The first order of business in the victory of the Small Government contingent needs to be gutting the IRS.

NOMOBO on April 11, 2013 at 12:55 PM

If we got rid of the 17th Amendment and replace it with a national sales tax we wouldn’t even NEED an IRS. Nor would anyone ever have to fill out a tax return.

wildcat72 on April 11, 2013 at 12:49 PM

Absolutely not true. Either the companies would have to, or you would be forced to reveal your purchases to the national government. *Someone* will have to keep track of it.

GWB on April 11, 2013 at 12:55 PM

I’d laugh if it wasn’t so wrong. There must be a bi-jillion zillion e-mails every day and some IRS dupe is going to sift through them looking for words like; kilos of cocaine, Masarati hidden in my garage, or send bribe money to the Mayor.

srdem65 on April 11, 2013 at 12:55 PM

Yes, I gave the proviso that technology/communication wasn’t then what it is now.

ALL, make NO excuses.

Pravda and Putin’s machine, Goebbels too, are very proud of Obama and all of America of today.

You’re harping at little fishes.

Schadenfreude on April 11, 2013 at 12:56 PM

Sorry, meant to say that I gave the priviso in days past, and I find it superfluous for the thinking. It’s understood.

Schadenfreude on April 11, 2013 at 12:57 PM

srdem65 on April 11, 2013 at 12:55 PM

You do realize these people have entire departments dedicated to finding out how to data-mine better?

Though one thing thing you can do is write your message in a document (like Word or Openoffice), put it in a password-protected archive file (RAR is a popular one), and attach THAT to your email. Not government-proof by any means, but if enough people did it they wouldn’t have the CPU power to decrypt a fraction of them.

MelonCollie on April 11, 2013 at 12:58 PM

so this is why Rush is touting reagan.com email service on his show eh?

workingclass artist on April 11, 2013 at 12:58 PM

The USSR didn’t have Google either.

Meh, the US should allow spying, 24/7…because technology is sooooo improved.

I’m sick of today’s America, the once shining hill for the entire world.

The leftists are all tyrannical and the Rs are dumber than rocks.

Schadenfreude on April 11, 2013 at 12:58 PM

Do they at least read emails on Saturdays?

Shy Guy on April 11, 2013 at 12:59 PM

The USSR wasn’t as bad.

Schadenfreude on April 11, 2013 at 12:42 PM

That’s because basically none of today’s tech existed.

And Barry and the dems must play oneupmanship with the USSRs record.

Anything the USSR did, Barry and Co. can do better.

hawkeye54 on April 11, 2013 at 1:00 PM

Do they at least read emails on Saturdays?

Meh, for the potential to catch you cheating and up to no good, they’ve got e-mail readers on staff, around the clock, 24/7 for hopeful instant gratification.

hawkeye54 on April 11, 2013 at 1:01 PM

Maybe I should start sending myself emails about how I’m stashing my money in Switzerland or something. It could be fun to mess with their heads. Anybody know how many digits are in a Swiss bank account number?

GWB on April 11, 2013 at 10:54 AM

(from the headline thread on this)

GWB on April 11, 2013 at 1:02 PM

hawkeye54 on April 11, 2013 at 1:00 PM

Yep, the three P’s…pogroms, purges and prisons.

Uncle Frank taught this Barry guy well.

coldwarrior on April 11, 2013 at 1:03 PM

When FEMEN seizes power we won’t have to take this kind of §hit.

Seth Halpern on April 11, 2013 at 1:03 PM

Anything the USSR did, Barry and Co. can do better.

hawkeye54 on April 11, 2013 at 1:00 PM

Oh, c’mon, man, you can give a link! ;)

GWB on April 11, 2013 at 1:04 PM

Two threads on this and no-one on hotgas has a clue.

There is no such thing as “opening” an email. If I am a systems administrator and your email goes through my system, I can read it.

Moreover, DHS is already filtering all the email (since 2001) and Obama is building a data centre to store it all so they can read it later. Hard drive prices are now that cheap.

But there is a simple answer. Use PGP and encrypt your mail. This is 20 year-old technology. Time to wise up folks.

gh on April 11, 2013 at 1:04 PM

In a 2009 handbook, the IRS said the Fourth Amendment does not protect emails because Internet users “do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such communications.”

Hmm.. what a coincidence. Somebody new just came to Washington in 2009.

I really like the part “Internet users “do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such communications.”

That’s like the government saying “We’re here to steal rob and destroy you… and we can do it because nobody has a reasonable expectation that we wouldn’t… because that’s what we are and that’s what we do.

JellyToast on April 11, 2013 at 1:05 PM

The Feds violate Bill of Rights everyday. Why is this any different? The Federal Gov out of control.

jawkneemusic on April 11, 2013 at 1:05 PM

When FEMEN seizes power we won’t have to take this kind of §hit.

Seth Halpern on April 11, 2013 at 1:03 PM

Don’t we have enough boobs already controlling our lives?!?!

Shy Guy on April 11, 2013 at 1:05 PM

Those of you who drive company cars know you are required to maintain driving records and are imputed income for the personal use of your vehicle.
I wonder if the IRS imputes income to the Obamas for their personal use of government assets – ie vacations?

diogenes on April 11, 2013 at 1:05 PM

Absolutely not true. Either the companies would have to, or you would be forced to reveal your purchases to the national government. *Someone* will have to keep track of it.

GWB on April 11, 2013 at 12:55 PM

This! I don’t know why people keep saying this, whether it’s promoting a flat tax or Fair Tax. If the government collects any kind of internal revenue from the people, there will be an IRS. The only way to get rid of the Internal Revenue Service is to not collect taxes at all and that’s not happening!

Conservative Independent on April 11, 2013 at 1:07 PM

In a 2009 handbook, the IRS said the Fourth Amendment does not protect emails because Internet users “do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such communications.”

This is the same logic gun grabbers use when making the claim the 2nd Amendment limits us to muskets. Apply this logic to the 1st and the Statists squirm.

jawkneemusic on April 11, 2013 at 1:07 PM

Uhh… Is the IRS not part of the federal government? Or is it now considered a semi-private entity like Amtrak or the USPS?
(And therefore not REALLY subject to civil rights laws…)

Skywise on April 11, 2013 at 1:08 PM

— re-posted from the Headlines thread —

Can anyone explain why it is that our email system is not secure? After all, we are able to conduct bank transactions over the internet. Why not really secure email? Surely the technology is there! Wouldn’t any ISP that offered secure email have a major market advantage? I don’t get it.

I am not agreeing with the IRS any more than I would think that an inadequate lock on my front door or a lack of security bars on the windows of my home should justify a warrant-less search based on no reasonable expectation of privacy. But I would think it easy to transform this shades-of-grey issue into black-and-white, with just a little technology.

Alternatively, I would think it legislatively simple to legally afford email the same privacy under law as snail mail.

topdog on April 11, 2013 at 11:25 AM

It’s easy to send secure email. Put it in a document, encrypt it, and send it.

The hard part is making sure the people getting it are able to decrypt it. You either have to spend a lot of time establishing secure passwords with them separately, or use something like PGP encryption where you have a private key that only you know, and a public key that everyone knows. Then email or documents can be encrypted by anyone with the public key, but only read by the person holding the private key.

Unfortunately, it’s a more complex system than people really want to learn, so they settle for what they figure is “secure enough.”

There Goes The Neighborhood on April 11, 2013 at 1:08 PM

GWB on April 11, 2013 at 1:02 PM

No more than 12, in the account number.

To wit: CH10 04530 00A106899346.

CH is for Switzerland, the 10 is international check digit, 00230 is the bank routing number, and the rest, the individual account number.

coldwarrior on April 11, 2013 at 1:09 PM

Anything the USSR did, Barry and Co. can do better.

hawkeye54 on April 11, 2013 at 1:00 PM

Not really

Schadenfreude on April 11, 2013 at 1:09 PM

Oh, c’mon, man, you can give a link! ;)

GWB on April 11, 2013 at 1:04 PM

Shudda. It crossed my mind. :)

hawkeye54 on April 11, 2013 at 1:09 PM

— re-posted from the Headlines thread —

The “no expectation of privacy” is a hard one for the IRS to make. It’s been ruled that most people using their business email system have no “expectation of privacy,” because the email system is owned by the company and managed by the company.

How does that apply to the IRS? They don’t own the email systems in question.

There Goes The Neighborhood on April 11, 2013 at 1:00 PM

There Goes The Neighborhood on April 11, 2013 at 1:09 PM

gh on April 11, 2013 at 1:04 PM

For you and anyone else who wants to comment:

Wouldn’t using an SSL connection for email access/download indicate and expectation to privacy and undermine the IRS’s claim?

batter on April 11, 2013 at 1:10 PM

In a 2009 handbook, the IRS said the Fourth Amendment does not protect emails because Internet users “do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such communications.” A 2010 presentation by the IRS Office of General Counsel reiterated the policy.

If people do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy, then why is hacking into an email account illegal?

18 USC § 2701 – Unlawful access to stored communications

(a) Offense.— Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section whoever—

(1) intentionally accesses without authorization a facility through which an electronic communication service is provided; or

(2) intentionally exceeds an authorization to access that facility;

and thereby obtains, alters, or prevents authorized access to a wire or electronic communication while it is in electronic storage in such system shall be punished as provided in subsection (b) of this section.

(b) Punishment.— The punishment for an offense under subsection (a) of this section is—

(1) if the offense is committed for purposes of commercial advantage, malicious destruction or damage, or private commercial gain, or in furtherance of any criminal or tortious act in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States or any State—

(A) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than 5 years, or both, in the case of a first offense under this subparagraph; and

(B) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both, for any subsequent offense under this subparagraph; and

(2) in any other case—

(A) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than 1 year or both, in the case of a first offense under this paragraph; and

(B) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than 5 years, or both, in the case of an offense under this subparagraph that occurs after a conviction of another offense under this section.

(c) Exceptions.— Subsection (a) of this section does not apply with respect to conduct authorized—

(1) by the person or entity providing a wire or electronic communications service;

(2) by a user of that service with respect to a communication of or intended for that user; or

(3) in section 2703, 2704 or 2518 of this title.

2703 applies to ‘Required disclosure of customer communications or records.’

2704 applies to ‘Backup preservation.’

2518 applies to ‘Procedure for interception of wire, oral, or electronic communications,’ which applies to the procedure to get a warrant.

Resist We Much on April 11, 2013 at 1:10 PM

Anything the USSR did, Barry and Co. can do better.

hawkeye54 on April 11, 2013 at 1:00 PM

Not really

But in his mind, yes. Barry does have to acquiesce and be flexible with his allies once in a while though, magnanimous as he is. :)

hawkeye54 on April 11, 2013 at 1:12 PM

If we got rid of the 17th Amendment and replace it with a national sales tax we wouldn’t even NEED an IRS. Nor would anyone ever have to fill out a tax return.

That sound you just heard was the sound of H&R Block and the multibillion dollar tax compliance industry experiencing a stroke.

The fact that such an industry EXISTS is proof that our tax code violates the Constitution.

wildcat72 on April 11, 2013 at 12:49 PM

AMEN to that, brother!!!! I spend several hundred dollars a year (buying tax prep software, paying for extra State forms, using online transfers to file and get refunds, etc) on tax prep.

I have been saying for the longest time that I would gladly replace the US income tax system with a VAT system any day. We should be taxing consumption, not productivity.

powerpickle on April 11, 2013 at 1:12 PM

Do they at least read emails on Saturdays?

Shy Guy on April 11, 2013 at 12:59 PM

sure…at time and a half…on our dime

NY Conservative on April 11, 2013 at 1:13 PM

The US Constitution was written to constrain the power of the federal government, and that is especially true of the Bill of Rights. This just reminds us of the wisdom of the founders, and the perpetual vigilance required for liberty.

Yeah, but the Founders were only thinking about ‘papers’ when they wrote the Fourth Amendment…just like the Second Amendment really just applies to muskets.

/

Resist We Much on April 11, 2013 at 1:15 PM

When the State asserts that the law doesn’t apply to it, or, if it does, that it can simply be ignored, then you have tyranny.

It doesn’t get any more basic than that.

The only thing missing is the State’s use of unrestrained force on the People.

That will come.

OhEssYouCowboys on April 11, 2013 at 1:17 PM

I have been saying for the longest time that I would gladly replace the US income tax system with a VAT system any day. We should be taxing consumption, not productivity.

powerpickle on April 11, 2013 at 1:12 PM

VAT, like national pot legalization, has proven to be a very bad idea in Europe and we should not try it here. It’s been too easily abused as a stealth tax.

Take a look at the Fairtax for consumption taxing.

MelonCollie on April 11, 2013 at 1:17 PM

Resist We Much on April 11, 2013 at 1:15 PM

And they were all a bunch of rich, slave-owning white guys, who smoked and drank and stuff…

:-)

coldwarrior on April 11, 2013 at 1:18 PM

For you and anyone else who wants to comment:

Wouldn’t using an SSL connection for email access/download indicate and expectation to privacy and undermine the IRS’s claim?

batter on April 11, 2013 at 1:10 PM

That is just a legal question. SSL only encrypts things in-transit and most mail servers use it at both ends now, just to deal with spam and authentication. The message itself is still sent in the clear.

However, SSL would stop wiretaps and require DHS to get a warrant to search hard-drives. The problem is that some ISPs have been bullied to give them access.

Someone above suggested document encryption. That is generally not very strong. PGP is as strong as you want. With careful use the only way to break it is rubber-hose cryptography, which brings the courts into things (since they’ll need to arrest you first).

Some people think quantum computing may make current encryption breakable but they’ll need a few kB of qbits and right now the record is something like 15. So I’m not worried there.

gh on April 11, 2013 at 1:19 PM

Absolutely not true. Either the companies would have to, or you would be forced to reveal your purchases to the national government. *Someone* will have to keep track of it. GWB on April 11, 2013 at 12:55 PM

Wha…? Who keeps track of the sales tax you now pay to the 7-11? Do you reveal your 7-11 purchases to your state govt?

Akzed on April 11, 2013 at 1:21 PM

Whom they are after

Schadenfreude on April 11, 2013 at 1:21 PM

The message itself is still sent stored in the clear.

Typo. This means you can read it from the hard-drive on the mail server. If it is encrypted then you still have to break the encryption.

gh on April 11, 2013 at 1:22 PM

sux don’t it.

losarkos on April 11, 2013 at 1:22 PM

Absolutely not true. Either the companies would have to, or you would be forced to reveal your purchases to the national government. *Someone* will have to keep track of it.

GWB on April 11, 2013 at 12:55 PM

States with a sales tax require vendors to collect the tax at point of purchase. They then are responsible for sending the collected taxes to the state.

No tax system will eliminate all hassle or compliance hurdles. But a sales tax is pretty straight forward and fairly easy for vendors to comply with.

NotCoach on April 11, 2013 at 1:25 PM

So the Constitution is a living, breathing document that changes with the times in the case of abortion and gay marriage. But in the case of the privacy of your personal correspondence, it’s still back in the 1860′s?

Socratease on April 11, 2013 at 1:27 PM

By the way. Phone providers are now converting voice-mail to text, which means it can also be searched by computer programs.

Obama will be collecting that too under the DHS mandate.

There was an interview on RT[1] with an ex-NSA math guy (quit in 2001 over DHS under bush) who explained what Obama has been doing. He suggested that they may have got Petraeus[2] by searching his email.

[1] Russia Today.
[2] Spelling from memory.

gh on April 11, 2013 at 1:28 PM

gh on April 11, 2013 at 1:22 PM

Thanks for the answer and clarification.

batter on April 11, 2013 at 1:30 PM

ABOLISH THE I.R.S.!!

Be done with it once and for all…

Scrumpy on April 11, 2013 at 1:32 PM

The only way to get rid of the Internal Revenue Service is to not collect taxes at all and that’s not happening!

Conservative Independent on April 11, 2013 at 1:07 PM

Unless of course, you repeal the 16th Amendment.

GWB on April 11, 2013 at 1:34 PM

Schadenfreude on April 11, 2013 at 1:21 PM

And SW got banned for saying less…huh…still pissed off about that, will be for a long time.

There is no competing against the propaganda machine that is Marxist!

Sunk we are…

Scrumpy on April 11, 2013 at 1:36 PM

o/t

Two Democrats – Sean Riley and Curtis Morrison – with Progress Kentucky have ADMITTED to being responsible to bugging McConnell’s office per a Kentucky state Democratic Party official.

Progress Kentucky was behind the racist hits on McConnell’s wife.

Resist We Much on April 11, 2013 at 1:43 PM

The USSR wasn’t as bad.

Schadenfreude on April 11, 2013 at 12:42 PM

That’s because back then email was a postmarked letter from Eastern Europe.

Shy Guy on April 11, 2013 at 12:46 PM

Containing an invoice for the cost of the bullet.

We aren’t the USSR yet but we are definitely heading that way under this corrupt regime that clearly hates America as we all knew it.

Happy Nomad on April 11, 2013 at 1:44 PM

No tax system will eliminate all hassle or compliance hurdles. But a sales tax is pretty straight forward and fairly easy for vendors to comply with.

NotCoach on April 11, 2013 at 1:25 PM

Right. However, a lot of folks seem to argue that we can do away with the organization charged with enforcing compliance if we just turn to a national sales tax. And, that just ain’t so.

GWB on April 11, 2013 at 1:44 PM

Wha…? Who keeps track of the sales tax you now pay to the 7-11? Do you reveal your 7-11 purchases to your state govt?

Akzed on April 11, 2013 at 1:21 PM

The 7-11 keeps track of the sales tax right now. And, they do keep aggregate records of what they sell – some items have different tax levels applied to them, depending on state and locality. If the national government put the onus on the individual, you would have to show them how much of each type of purchase you made, so it could be properly categorized.

It is *easier* for them to simply use the seller to gather the info, since they already do so for the state and local governments, but don’t put it past them to ask you to do it (gotta save all those IRS jobs, after all).

GWB on April 11, 2013 at 1:53 PM

oba-mao

ultracon on April 11, 2013 at 2:04 PM

The IRS makes the Stasi look like keepers of the flame of freedom.

stout77 on April 11, 2013 at 2:04 PM

A simple solution: PGP encryption or it’s open-source equivalent, GPG encryption. If you’re willing to share encryption keys then my personal choice is AxCrypt.

Sending email is like sending postcards, meaning that they can be read by anybody along its route. While I do NOT agree with the IRS’ assertion, I always encrypt any email I don’t want read by anybody other than the recipient.

Any hardware that your email passes through can read it so there should be no misunderstanding that your email is secure. Having said that, I do think that we should toss out the IRS and enable the Fair Tax.

Kingfisher on April 11, 2013 at 2:08 PM

WOW – yet another part of the OBOZO dictatorial regime is totally lawless. Shocking – and sooooooo unexpected.

TeaPartyNation on April 11, 2013 at 2:14 PM

Someone above suggested document encryption. That is generally not very strong. PGP is as strong as you want. With careful use the only way to break it is rubber-hose cryptography, which brings the courts into things (since they’ll need to arrest you first).

Using the document’s encryption tool (e.g. Excel) isn’t very strong but as you mentioned, PGP is extremely strong. The only problem is, PGP is not free but GPG (Gnu Privacy Guard) is the free equivalent. There is a learning curve to GPG but I use it and really like it.

GPG/PGP is known as “asymmetric encryption” meaning that both the sender and the receiver have two keys: a public key and a private key. The public key only encrypts while the private key only decrypts (in a simplified version). Both the sender and the receiver exchanges public keys and the sender encrypts the document with the recipient’s public key before sending.

AxCrypt is known as “symmetric encryption,” meaning that both the sender and receiver must both have the same key for encryption and decryption.

Some people think quantum computing may make current encryption breakable but they’ll need a few kB of qbits and right now the record is something like 15. So I’m not worried there.

We’re getting closer but still a long way off from quantum computing.

Kingfisher on April 11, 2013 at 2:21 PM

We’re getting closer but still a long way off from quantum computing.

Kingfisher on April 11, 2013 at 2:21 PM

So, wouldn’t we just move to quantum encryption?

NotCoach on April 11, 2013 at 2:23 PM

Correction:

Any hardware that your email passes through can read it so there should be no misunderstanding that your email is NOT secure.

Email was designed as an open standard so it can be read by anybody.

Kingfisher on April 11, 2013 at 2:23 PM

So, wouldn’t we just move to quantum encryption?

NotCoach on April 11, 2013 at 2:23 PM

We don’t have the processing power yet to go there. Eventually we will but we can’t at this time.

Kingfisher on April 11, 2013 at 2:25 PM

Since the IRS now believes this bit of insanity, they should be fine… and I do mean absolutely fine… with handing over every single e-mail that they have ever sent out from all personnel from all departments, from the start of the IRS getting its first e-mail address.

You shouldn’t even have to get a FOIA for that since, you know, THEY have NO expectation of PRIVACY.

Live up to your belief, IRS.

ajacksonian on April 11, 2013 at 2:44 PM

We don’t have the processing power yet to go there. Eventually we will but we can’t at this time.

I await the day when we have cerebral implants for speechless and textless mind communication. Typing letters and words are so hard!

hawkeye54 on April 11, 2013 at 2:46 PM

Prying into people’s secret conversations-probably accomplished through stealth software installed on customers’ Internet Service Providers such as Verizon-can also yield powerful information far beyond just tax evasion schemes.

.Children (or known enemies of the targeted individual) known to be hostile to their parents can be bribed to “snitch”.
. “politically incorrect” email statements can be used to intimidate, harass and coerce political enemies into either silence or cooperation or obedience.
. Secret family scandals and other closet skeletons can also be used to coerce “cooperation” or to expose and vilify.
.PLUS any mention of tax evasion schemes, secret Cayman Islands bank accounts or threats to any government officials can be used to tax, imprison, deport, or humiliate as the situation requires.

PS-is anyone falling for the IRS gimmick to make direct electronic deposits of refunds into your bank account? That’s like inviting the hungry lion into your bedroom. What the IRS giveth they can also take away.

MaiDee on April 11, 2013 at 2:50 PM

We don’t have the processing power yet to go there. Eventually we will but we can’t at this time.

Kingfisher on April 11, 2013 at 2:25 PM

My point was that if people start using quantum computing to crack current encryption, we would move to quantum encryption.

NotCoach on April 11, 2013 at 2:54 PM

Silent Circle coming: The Threat of Silence:
Meet the Groundbreaking New Encryption App Set to Revolutionize Privacy and Freak out the Feds.

From February: “For the past few months, some of the world’s leading cryptographers have been keeping a closely guarded secret about a pioneering new invention. Today, they’ve decided it’s time to tell all.”

slickwillie2001 on April 11, 2013 at 2:55 PM

Where are all the liberals railing against this over-reaching power from the government. Before Obama they would have been protesting and rioting in droves about “big brother”.

Sterling Holobyte on April 11, 2013 at 2:56 PM

So I ask then, does the IRS, or any law enforcement agency have the right to intercept our snail mail & read it?
I seriously doubt this is true.

Badger40 on April 11, 2013 at 2:57 PM

Where are all the liberals railing against this over-reaching power from the government. Before Obama they would have been protesting and rioting in droves about “big brother”.

Sterling Holobyte on April 11, 2013 at 2:56 PM

“Free” welfare checks and the promise of “free” medical care tend to buy silence.

Kingfisher on April 11, 2013 at 3:14 PM

My point was that if people start using quantum computing to crack current encryption, we would move to quantum encryption.

NotCoach on April 11, 2013 at 2:54 PM

You’re correct. In the meanwhile, we’ll just have to stick to our hokey “non-quantum” computers. :-D

Kingfisher on April 11, 2013 at 3:16 PM

“Free” welfare checks and the promise of “free” medical care tend to buy silence.

Kingfisher on April 11, 2013 at 3:14 PM

And phones, don’t forget that.

Sterling Holobyte on April 11, 2013 at 3:22 PM

If defunding IRS a possibility, or they are self-financing, kinda?

Archivarix on April 11, 2013 at 12:52 PM

Well, they ARE the ones who collect all the money and cash the checks.

Solaratov on April 11, 2013 at 3:24 PM

Big Brother isn’t coming, he’s already here. Add this to the EPA giving farmer’s info to lobbying groups and the ATF seeking a “Giant Database” and you have to think that Orwell was about 30 years off…

If the government can share your gun permit data with the public, why not your tax and income data too?

imperfectamerica on April 11, 2013 at 3:26 PM

So I ask then, does the IRS, or any law enforcement agency have the right to intercept our snail mail & read it?
I seriously doubt this is true.

Badger40 on April 11, 2013 at 2:57 PM

I believe it has been ruled that they *can* read postcards, since the information is not protected in any way. There is an argument that – because email can be read (unless encrypted) by every server through which it passes – it is not ‘protected’, just like a postcard. This is where they hang their hat, and it has some value as an argument. My answer is that it more akin to holding up an airmail envelope to the light to read what’s inside. Which *would* be a violation.

GWB on April 11, 2013 at 3:32 PM

When FEMEN seizes power we won’t have to take this kind of §hit.

Seth Halpern on April 11, 2013 at 1:03 PM

Don’t we have enough boobs already controlling our lives?!?!

Shy Guy on April 11, 2013 at 1:05 PM

http://imageshack.us/a/img10/8075/lifehumoredited.jpg

Solaratov on April 11, 2013 at 3:39 PM

Relax citizens, Eschelon and Carnivore are no more! The job has been outsourced.

Whatever happened to Michael Knight?

AbeFroman on April 11, 2013 at 4:02 PM

If we got rid of the 17th Amendment and replace it with a national sales tax we wouldn’t even NEED an IRS. Nor would anyone ever have to fill out a tax return.

wildcat72 on April 11, 2013 at 12:49 PM

The 17th amendment deals with the direct election of senators. That is perhaps what they’d prefer be replaced with a national sales tax, though, rather than “Sweet 16″, as my HS economics/government teacher called it.

VerbumSap on April 11, 2013 at 4:20 PM

ABOLISH THE I.R.S.!!

Be done with it once and for all…

Scrumpy on April 11, 2013 at 1:32 PM

.
That’s all that need be said.

listens2glenn on April 11, 2013 at 7:02 PM

Oh no, they wouldn’t dare…we’re a nation of laws! We have checks and balances! We have a Constitution!

I’d be LMAO if I lived in a different country.

Dr. ZhivBlago on April 11, 2013 at 7:21 PM

Unless of course, you repeal the 16th Amendment.

GWB on April 11, 2013 at 1:34 PM

That’s what I meant when I said “or collect no taxes at all”. Sorry for not being clearer.

Conservative Independent on April 11, 2013 at 10:03 PM

Kingfisher on April 11, 2013 at 2:21 PM

PGP does have freeware………….

http://www.pgpi.org/

Solaratov on April 11, 2013 at 10:23 PM

Big Brother isn’t coming, he’s already here. Add this to the EPA giving farmer’s info to lobbying groups and the ATF seeking a “Giant Database” and you have to think that Orwell was about 30 years off…

If the government can share your gun permit data with the public, why not your tax and income data too?*

imperfectamerica on April 11, 2013 at 3:26 PM

Go back to the *link and RTWT – old but not stale.

AesopFan on April 12, 2013 at 12:39 AM

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