Tax return privacy

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In case you haven't heard, Rep. Ernest Istook managed to get language inserted into the omnibus spending bill that allows the Chairmen of the House and Senate appropriations committees to review your and my tax returns:
"Hereinafter, notwithstanding any other provision of law governing the disclosure of income tax returns or return information, upon written request of the Chairman of the House or Senate Committee on Appropriations, the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service shall allow agents designated by such Chairman access to Internal Revenue Service facilities and any tax returns or return information contained therein."

The Senate has already passed a resolution repealing the clause and the House is supposed to do the same on Wednesday, so it looks like this won't actually ever come into effect.

I've got conflicting reactions here. On the one hand, it's a pretty clear illustration of why privacy types don't want the government collecting a bunch of additional information from you (e.g., your airplane flight data). On the other hand, it's a reminder that the government already collects an enormous amount of information about you, and the controls that keep that stuff secret are pretty prone to catastrophic failure.

(Via Josh Marshall)

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1 Comments

As I understand it, they already had the power to review our tax returns. The new measure lets them disclose the information without penalty, which wasn't previously allowed.