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IRS to check social media for evidence of tax evasion

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has had to cut down significantly on the size of its workforce. Due to the reduced workforce, the agency has stated it struggles to keep up with investigations. As a result, the agency has needed to take steps towards increased efficiency.

One example: use of social media to gather data about taxpayers.

IRS and use of social media

Prosecutors have used evidence gathered from social media sites in criminal trials. Jilted partners have used evidence from social media during contentious divorce proceedings. It seems organic the next step will be for the IRS to use evidence from social media sources to help build tax evasion cases.

The agency recently stated that it will begin using social media to hunt down those who illegally evade their tax obligations. The IRS does not currently have the manpower or tools to achieve this goal. As a result, it published a notice stating it is looking for a vendor to help achieve this goal. According to the notice, the IRS wants a vendor to supply a tool to "access public information, compile social media feeds, (and) search multiple social media sites."

The IRS clarified it would not mine social media sites to initiate a claim against the taxpayer. Instead, the agency has stated it would use the information only to assist current investigations. 

Lesson for taxpayers

Taxpayers that find themselves the subject of an audit have rights. If pursued, the IRS’ search of social media sites could make it more important than ever for taxpayers who are audited to act to protect these rights. An attorney experienced in these matters can help.

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