IRS Can Access Your Email To Verify Your Tax Report

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Usually, when the government wants to see what you do, either online or in your own home, they need to get a warrant to do it. They need to show a judge that what you do may be illegal, or connected to illegal activities, because they have some reason to believe so. In recent years however, the online protections have been diminished through laws like the PATRIOT Act, but this usually applies to major crimes or issues of national security. However, the ACLU blows the whistle on a recent document obtained from the IRS that shows the agency thinks that checking on your income tax return is a good enough reason to spy on your online activities including reading your email.

This disclosure comes in the form of a Freedom of Information Request that the ACLU sent last year, and they received 247 pages of policies that the agency uses when dealing with privacy and information. In it, the IRS does not specify whether it always obtains a warrant in order to access email. In fact, the language used indicates that it may well go to email providers instead, and request that information directly, without probable cause. This may particularly be true for their criminal tax evasion division.

Not that long ago, the Supreme Court upheld the need for warrants in the United States v. Warshak case, especially in regards to emails. However, there is no sign that the Warshak case is being listened to when the IRS does business. So with the situation still unclear, you may want to be careful what communication protocol you use when talking to your accountant, or bank manager. If at some point the IRS decides that you owe back taxes, those emails may come back to hurt you.