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Tax dodgers beware: Taxman could be watching your social media


The IRS is said to be data mining Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other sites for info that could come handy in audits.

Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have all become places where people post intimate details about their lives: vacation photos, work successes, buying a new house, car, or other cool stuff.  However, this information is also up for grabs by the Internal Revenue Service.

In its quest to find and audit tax dodgers, the IRS is said to use online activity trackers to sift through the mass amounts of data available on the Internet, according to Marketplace. This data is then added to the information the agency already has on people, such as Social Security numbers, health records, banking statements, and property.

“It seems they may be using predictive analytics,” University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School of Communication Professor Joseph Turow told Marketplace. “That takes a huge amount of data and puts it together in a big pot to see if they can predict which individuals don’t pay their taxes.”

Last year, it was revealed that the IRS was claiming the right to read taxpayers’ email and private information on social media accounts without first getting a search warrant. After a brouhaha from civil liberties groups, citizens, and lawmakers, the IRS announced the no-warrant-required policy would be ditched for email, but it did not make the same commitment for other private electronic communications.

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