IRS Demands Smack of Big Brother

According to surveys, 81% of Americans support voter ID requirements. Yet President Joe Biden recently condemned state election integrity laws that strengthen voter ID protections and ensure the accuracy of voter registration rolls as “Jim Crow 2.0.”

This supposed “threat to our democracy” is so grave that Biden equated those who support the laws with overt racists like Bull Connor and George Wallace.

But if the president thinks checking IDs and verifying voter rolls is racist, how can he condone the new IRS procedures requiring taxpayers to give a private company a copy of their government-issued photo ID—as well as their email address, phone number, Social Security number, and a video selfie taken with a smartphone or computer—before they can gain access to basic tax services on the IRS website? Is Biden’s IRS engaging in “Jim Crow 3.0”?

Actually, the IRS’ demands of taxpayers smack more of dangerous Big Brotherism than racism. For example, if, the Virginia-based company being entrusted with taxpayers’ private information, is unable to verify users’ identity with the information, users will then have to join a video call with a “trusted referee” to “answer a few questions.” will use the video selfies—which all users must provide—to collect biometric data, including voiceprints and facial geometry recognition. Taxpayers must sign a consent form for the company to collect this data, and the form allows to “reserve the right to change or modify this Biometric Consent.”

Many taxpayers won’t fully understand what information is being collected or how it will be used. How many people actually read all consent forms? Even if they do read all consent forms, taxpayers may still have to consent to access their online account, their tax records, and to update their child tax credit information.

Americans’ ability to interact with government for basic tax services will be filtered through a secret private algorithm. All told, the new system will determine taxpayers’ access to services that were used an estimated 60 million times last year. The IRS website states that additional IRS applications will move to the new system in the coming year.

In other words, the IRS will force more taxpayers to disclose highly personal information to a private firm in order to protect taxpayer information.

The IRS has a poor track-record in safeguarding taxpayer information. Americans should be skeptical about the idea of sharing more data to ensure their privacy.

In June 2021, ProPublica—a left-leaning news organization that somehow received private tax documents—released a report leaking information on the tax records of dozens of the wealthiest U.S. taxpayers. The data leak or data breach has not been proven to be felonious. It is also unclear how many taxpayer records were exposed.

It is unlikely that taxpayer information can be kept safe by making a private company the gatekeeper to certain taxpayer data. Equifax’ 2017 data breach exposed personal information for 147 million Americans.

Also consider the difference between how state voting laws come about compared to the IRS’ new procedures.

States that require voter ID or amend other election laws must follow the standard legislative process. This involves duly elected representatives passing laws subject to all legal checks and balances.

Yet Biden’s IRS will require sensitive taxpayer data to access basic tax functions with no new laws passed and no elected officials accountable for the change.

Which is more democratic?

The Biden IRS has always sought more power, through legislative or not. The Treasury Department attempted to allow the IRS access to bank transactions of almost all Americans last fall but was met with outrage from the public.

The Build Back better Act would have nearly doubled IRS size, adding 87,000 additional agents mainly for enforcement. The Senate rejected the House version of this bill because it contained provisions that were unpopular.

The IRS is acting outside of the legislative process in imposing new information-sharing obligations on taxpayers as part of the new facial recognition requirements.

The IRS and other agencies have the power to invade taxpayer privacy. This exposes the flaws in our democratic republic’s functioning. In Biden’s words, “That’s the kind of power you see in totalitarian states, not in democracies.”

©2022 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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