By: David J. Herzig
Over the weekend, I came across a tweet from Edward Snowden that caught my eye. He mentioned the Scottish governments use of the UK meta data. What was surprising to me is that the data was shared not only with the policing authorities, but also, with the tax authorities.
In this article, there is a claim that “[t]he confirmation that UK state spy agency GCHQ ran a specific programmed, called “MILKWHITE”, to share data with devolved policing and tax authorities is the first Snowden leak to directly implicate Scottish authorities in the controversial policy of ‘bulk data’ collection.”
The entire article is devoted to the problematic practices of meta data collection and sharing. Further, it only mentions the tax authorities once. But what is especially intriguing to me is that the taxing authorities are part of data analysis.
I would have suspected that the taxing authorities would want to use data to verify taxpayer movement. For example, if you are avoiding US taxes because you claim a non resident status (I know it is a rolling calculation), wouldn’t it be nice for US to use your cell phone records to catch you spending 220 days a year in the US.
But I never thought they the IRS, let alone other countries, had either the desire or funds to do data harvesting. The idea that the Scottish taxing authorities are part of the data distribution protocol now gives me pause. I wonder if taxpayers now need to be worried about taxing authorities starting to use meta data?
2 thoughts on “Snowden and Taxes”
I have no doubt in believing that, as new technologies develop, tax administrators salivate at the possibilities of putting them to their own use. That goes for all tax administrators in the planet.
The United States aspires to develop effective exit controls and tests mechanisms to achieve that kind of ‘nirvana’. Justified through other means, I have always believed there are other ‘interested users’ of that data that could include tax administrators.
From the Federal Register, 80 FR 70241, regarding a pilot:
“CBP will also collect biographic data from all travelers exiting the United States at the Otay Mesa port-of-entry, including U.S. citizens. Biographic data consists of the traveler’s identifying information provided on his or her travel documents, such as full name, date of birth, gender, and country of citizenship […]”
As far as metadata and locator use, I have no doubt that the capability could be deployed; initially perhaps, for high value cases. Federal budgetary limitations may come into play; but I could not discount state tax authorities to notice and examine how this technology can help increase revenues.