1996-07-12 - Re: DoD and IRS tax systems (fwd)

Header Data

From: Jeff Barber <jeffb@issl.atl.hp.com>
To: cypherpunks@toad.com (Cypherpunks List)
Message Hash: 3beac06676d8a3fd931235126fbce39c4f30f6c098046fc3774daf0a3e20f6c3
Message ID: <199607121338.JAA09574@jafar.issl.atl.hp.com>
Reply To: N/A
UTC Datetime: 1996-07-12 21:08:14 UTC
Raw Date: Sat, 13 Jul 1996 05:08:14 +0800

Raw message

From: Jeff Barber <jeffb@issl.atl.hp.com>
Date: Sat, 13 Jul 1996 05:08:14 +0800
To: cypherpunks@toad.com (Cypherpunks List)
Subject: Re: DoD and IRS tax systems (fwd)
Message-ID: <199607121338.JAA09574@jafar.issl.atl.hp.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

I'm taking the liberty of forwarding this excellent RISKS posting.
There are a couple of other related ones in the latest RISKS digest --
see comp.risks.

-- Jeff

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Date: Thu, 27 Jun 1996 14:12:51 -0400
From: Carl Minie <CarlM@qsc1po.qstr.com>
Subject: Re: DoD and IRS tax systems (Wexelblat, RISKS-18.23)

As an ex-liberal and small-l libertarian, I submit that the true danger to
privacy in the Republic is the practice of gathering detailed financial
information from all (law-abiding) Americans under threat of asset
confiscation and jail terms, and then giving tens of thousands of government
employees access to this information in the course of their employment.  I
further submit that passing a few wimpy privacy laws and expecting them to
prevent this information from being used for personal and political purposes
is magical thinking.  It doesn't take a genius to surmise that IRS data is
used regularly for illegal purposes by everyone from the sitting President
(of either party) down to grudge-bearing neighbors and ex-spouses.  I
believe the IRS attempted to assess the depth of the problem in their
Southeastern Region (where my mother worked) at one time, and stopped at
well over 300 violations.  You or I would have ended up at Leavenworth, but
all but a few of the most egregious violators were simply warned not to do
it again.

You can take voluntary action to keep yourself out of the TRW/
Equifax/TransUnion food chain and off junk mail lists...but Federal law
requires you to remain in the IRS's gunsights for your entire productive
lifespan.  Neither party supports privacy when it means privacy from the
government; it is a Democratic president who is enthusiastically supporting
the FBI and NSA in their efforts to prevent American citizens from using
encryption that they can't break, and to require that every phone, fax, and
modem in the United States contain a chip that would allow government
agencies to tap in at will.  Do I need to add here that the very concept of
economic privacy is anathema to those who believe that a portion of
everything you earn, keep, spend, or invest belongs to them, and that not
handing over the fraction they demand is stealing from them?

> Is the Department of Star Wars and the $700 toilet seat
> really so excellent a contracting agency that they are the
> clear choice to handle IRS business?

I don't expect the IRS to be abolished anytime soon...but letting the DoD
design its computer systems would be an acceptable second choice.  The DoD
may be expensive, but they're not very good.  My fondest hope is that with a
spanking new Government Issue computer system, the IRS that the GSA says
can't figure out where 60% of its own budget goes won't be able to find 60%
of mine.  I don't like paying for $700 toilet seats (or $320,000 spotted
owls) any more than you do.

The solution which provides the smallest RISK to privacy is not to gather
the data in the first place.  If tax compliance is truly voluntary, then the
IRS should trust that we are reading 21,000 pages of IRS rules and case law
and sending in the correct amount.

Long Pig