TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Sunday, January 6, 2019

The IRS Wants To Use Social Media To Catch Tax Cheats

IRS Big DataQuartz, The IRS Wants to Use Social Media to Catch Tax Cheats:

The Internal Revenue Service is looking for ways to scour social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter in its ongoing quest to catch tax cheats.

That’s according to a request for information issued December 18 by the IRS’s National Office of Procurement. The mining of social media data by the agency has been suspected in the past, but the IRS has never before confirmed the practice.

“Businesses and individuals increasingly use social media to advertise, promote, and sell products and services,” the IRS solicitation reads. “For example, taxpayers can create ‘online stores’ on social networking sites free of cost. Much of this information is unrestricted, allowing the public, businesses and various governmental agencies to discover taxpayers’ locations and income sources. But the IRS currently has no formal tool to access this public information, compile social media feeds, or search multiple social media sites.”

See also Kimberly Houser & Debra Sanders (Washington State), The Use of Big Data Analytics by the IRS: Efficient Solutions or the End of Privacy as We Know It?, 19 Vand. J. Ent. & Tech. L. 817 (2017).

IRS News, Tax | Permalink


No reasonable person has an expectation of any privacy in this media, so why not? It's one way to catch the stupid criminals.

Posted by: ruralcounsel | Jan 7, 2019 3:27:56 AM

Could this be a possibility:
Instead of the government agents using 'social media', the government agents pay tax-dollars to computer people to develop and maintain 'social media'.

Instead of the government agents "using 'social media'", 'social media' is the government agents?

Posted by: LargeMarge | Jan 9, 2019 4:39:42 AM

The IRS has the entire US congress of tax cheats to collect from,Most of those crooks are neck deep in shady dealings.

Posted by: larry | Jan 9, 2019 5:45:49 AM

When I first started using the Internet in the '90s, I quickly gained two insights. One, depending on the time of day, everybody is drunk. The deeper into the evening, the drunker everybody gets. Two, everybody lies. Nobody uses their real name, except idiots like me, setting the stage for telling lies even when the truth will do. Given this, I wonder about the probative value of evidence gained on the Internet. "Your Honor! He said he had a jillion dollars in a Swiss account on FaceBook."

Posted by: Dale Spradling | Jan 9, 2019 6:53:58 AM