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Curiosity killed the cat

Nearly half a dozen IRS workers at the agency’s Fresno, California facility were charged with computer fraud and unauthorized access to tax return information last Monday: prosecutors accused Corina Yepez, Melissa Moisa, Brenda Jurado, Irene Fierro and David Baker of snooping around taxpayers’ private tax information for personal purposes.

The five may have been caught by new algorithms deployed by the IRS to root out curious tax workers, which can be applied retroactively to access records stretching back for years.

According to the IRS, the five workers accused accessed between one and four records per person, sometime in 2005. The total number of compromised tax returns stands at 13.

“The IRS has a method for looking for unauthorized access, and it keeps audit trails, and occasionally it will pump out information about who's done what,” said prosecutor Mark McKoen, who will be leading the federal case against the Fresno five. “In general terms, IRS employees are only authorized to access the accounts of taxpayers who write in. They're not allowed to access friends, relatives, neighbors, [or] celebrities.”

Apparently, curious employees are a recurring problem for IRS investigators: with 430 known cases of improper access in 1998, and 521 in 2007. Problems occur frequently enough that nosy employees caught browsing are guilty of what the agency calls “UNAX,” or “unauthorized access”: Employees found in UNAX are typically disciplined internally, and a handful are slapped with misdemeanor charges of violating the Taxpayer Browsing Protection and Computer Fraud and Abuse Acts.

“Whether the intent is fraud or simply curiosity, the potential exists for unauthorized accesses to tax information of high-profile individuals and other taxpayers,” said Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George. “The competing goals of protecting this information and achieving workplace efficiencies become even more difficult as technology becomes faster and more complex.”

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RE: Here is an idea...
By dragonbif on 5/14/2008 1:24:03 PM , Rating: 2
First of all sales tax, property tax, gas tax and luxury tax are all state and local government tax. The federal do mostly income and services tax with a few other tax like polluting and such but most of us do not pay that sort of thing.
The reason the US does not change to a fixed income tax like other countries (9-13% or more) is because we have state income tax or state sales tax which we can get deductions for unlike other places who would only have local and federal. Also we have democrats in the US so giving back to the poor and people with lots of kids is so important that they would not want a fixed tax rate. To tell them to pay what other people pay would make it so you could not get elected into office. Do not forget we have things like Social Security and Medicare that could never be covered by income tax.
I would love a fixed tax rate of 9% and no more tax returns but I do not see that happening. The average person I would say pays 30% of their income to taxes in a year. If you add up income tax, sales tax, property tax, gas tax (west US mostly), SS, Medicare and all other tax it would be close to 30% if not more. They may fix are income tax but they would make us pay more in others.

RE: Here is an idea...
By Ringold on 5/15/2008 1:35:13 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, some New England states, combining federal, state and local taxes, directly consume nearly 40% of the average joe's income.

Throw in the taxes embedded in to retail prices, and if you're a college grad with a few years in the work force then every $1.00 theoretically earned is really translating in to $.30 of buying power.

I can't recall the exact number, but even a middle class blue-collar family ends up seeing an average of 60+ cents on the dollar being absorbed by various taxes.

Your 30% doesn't even cover what the average joe is probably seeing taken right off their pay stub!

"Nowadays you can buy a CPU cheaper than the CPU fan." -- Unnamed AMD executive

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