1994-05-06 - IRS plans

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From: nobody@shell.portal.com
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: 8f427357b538e8be4d5de4eb47aeb72e2857ba0d9f5b0672f4a51e5cefaff46d
Message ID: <199405060803.BAA07640@jobe.shell.portal.com>
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UTC Datetime: 1994-05-06 08:02:04 UTC
Raw Date: Fri, 6 May 94 01:02:04 PDT

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From: nobody@shell.portal.com
Date: Fri, 6 May 94 01:02:04 PDT
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: IRS plans
Message-ID: <199405060803.BAA07640@jobe.shell.portal.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
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>From: johnl@iecc.com (John R Levine)
>Newsgroups: comp.society.privacy
>Subject: What the IRS is up to

Here's some excerpts from a speech by Coleta Brueck, Project Manager,
Document Processing system, at the Internal Revenue Service, that she
gave at the Computer Press Association Awards luncheon in New York on
April 15th.  I was at the lunch, but the transcript of the speech just
arrived today.  The ellipses are mine, but I think I'm not distorting
what she said.

She started by explaining that their current systems are functionally
based on punch card systems from the 1950s, and they want to get more
stuff on-line so that when you call with a question, the person at the
IRS can retrieve a copy of your records while you're still on the
phone.  But then:

"We should be able to provide you on-line access to that information.
 ... You will have the availability to know what your current account
information is, very much like if most of us who have an American
Express Card, you can call -- you don't really know where that 800
number goes, but what you do know is when that person answers your
call, they have your complete account information. ... They can give
you information on your account, they can update your account, or they
can provide you futuristic looks into your account as to where you
might be next year, even, for filing tax returns.  We've often talked
about, and this is the terminology that I used when I was in on a task
group, we've talked about the "golden eagle" return.  This is the
golden -- or gold American Express Card return.  At the end of each
year, if you have an American Express Card, you get a gold account
summary of what you've done for the year.  ... Basically, what I say is
that if I know what you've made during the year, if I know what your
withholding is, if I know what your spending pattern is, I should be
able to generate for you a tax return so that I only come to you and
tell you, 'This is what I think you should file for the next year, and
if you agree to that, then don't bother sending me a piece of paper.'

But I am an excellent advocate of return-free filing.  We know
everything about you that we need to know.  Your employer tells us
everything about you that we need to know.  Your activity records on
your credit cards tell us everything about you that we need to know.
Through interface with Social Security, with the DMV, with your banking
institutions, we really have a lot of information, so why would you, at
the end of the year or on April 15th, today, do we ask the post office
to encumber themselves with massive numbers of people out there,
picking up pieves of paper that you are required to file?
 ... We could literally file a return for you.  This is the future
that we'd like to go to."

Lest there be any doubt, she was entirely serious, and she clearly
expected that that we'd all think this is as wonderful as she does.

John Levine, johnl@iecc.com, jlevine@delphi.com, 1037498@mcimail.com