Sunday, March 26, 2006

Do you think your tax returns are private? Think again!

The Philadelphia Inquirer--
IRS plans to allow prepares to sell YOUR tax return!

Under the proposed ruling, your wages, assets, expenses and personal data which are normally shared between you, your tax preparer and the government may be shared or sold to consumer information groups such as third-party data brokers.
"The IRS is quietly moving to loosen the once-inviolable privacy of federal income-tax returns. If it succeeds, accountants and other tax-return preparers will be able to sell information from individual returns - or even entire returns - to marketers and data brokers.
The change is raising alarm among consumer and privacy-rights advocates. It was included in a set of proposed rules that the Treasury Department and the IRS published in the Dec. 8 Federal Register, where the official notice labeled them "not a significant regulatory action."

"The normal interaction is that the taxpayer just signs what the tax preparer puts in front of them," said Jean Ann Fox of the Consumer Federation of America, one of several groups fighting the changes. "They think, 'This person is a tax professional, and I'm going to rely on them.' "


BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU SIGN!
I am also one of those that trust my CPA in preparation of my taxes. In fact, I just picked up my taxes on Friday and after receiving the summary of which way my money will flow, I signed the appropriate documents, wrote a check and left.


December 2005, the IRS announced it was planning to update section 7216 of the tax code which governs the usage and disclosure of information gathered by tax preparers. The regulation was rewritten to reflect the increasing reliance on electronic preparation of tax forms such as TurboTax. {source}
for further information
Department of treasury published December 8, 2005

Internal Revenue Bulletin 2006-3, published January 17, 2006

THE CONSUMERS SPEAK!
If I even hear a rumor that my CPA who I paid good money towards to properly prepare my taxes is selling my information to anybody... I'm going to find a new tax preparer. I encourage others to send a message to their tax preparer that this is not acceptable nor is it good client relations.

Although this has rather slipped underneath the radar so to speak, it is very important to still write a letter to the IRS and to our officials informing them that this kind of invasion of privacy will not be tolerated by our government.

CC:PA:LPD:PR (REG-137243-02)
Room 5203
Internal Revenue Service, Box 7604
Ben Franklin Station, Washington, D.C. 20044

Our government officials are sometimes puzzled why we do not trust the government. Excellent example.

Hat tip to Jeanne E. Trudeau for bringing this to our attention.

6 Comments:

Blogger MAX Redline said...

This is a non-issue, Robin. Having followed the issue since it began - which was well before it hit the news - it seems to me that it's a standard issue of disclosure/nondisclosure.

It's no different than standard practices involved in, say, buying or selling a house or a car.

In all such transactions, your information may be sold to third parties unless you specifically choose to opt out.

The IRS is simply adopting the stance that you must be afforded the opt-out provision.

2:57 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

Jay, I see where you are coming from. The big issue is that you are told upfront and given the option to opt-out.

an ideal situation would be that you have to give specific permission to "opt-in" and that your tax preparer has to bring it to your attention that this is what you are signing.

Of course, this is not an ideal world however, my stance still holds that if my CPA, especially without my knowledge sells my information that he will lose a longtime customer.

at least that is one thing that I still have control over.

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