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WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?
Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

If you like, you can send Magpie an email!



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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Tax info! Get your red hot tax info!

If the IRS gets its way, the person/company that prepares your federal tax return will be able to share your tax information with others. What a great idea, huh?

Three consumer organizations on Wednesday called the proposal shocking and urged the IRS to drop it.

They fear that many taxpayers could be rushed or duped into signing the consent form when they are signing their tax returns and related documents. They could end up losing control over financial data they wouldn't want their closest friends or family to see, much less outside marketing and database firms.

While the preparer would have to get the taxpayer's permission first, this still seems like the first appearance in the tent of that metaphorical camel.

To its credit, the IRS does propose specific rules regarding the format, content and font size of consent forms. Each consent would require a separate paper or electronic document. The consent must identify each type of product or service for which the tax preparer may solicit tax-return information. It also must specify which parts of the tax return are being disclosed.

The form would have to say: "Warning: Once your tax return information is disclosed to a third party per your consent, we have no control over what that third party does with your tax return information. If the third party uses or discloses your tax return information for purposes other than the purposes for which you authorized the disclosure, under Federal tax law, we are not responsible for that subsequent use or disclosure, and Federal tax law may not protect you from that disclosure."

It's hard to imagine that anyone would sign the form after reading that warning. But if no one would consent, then why even allow it?

The only ones who would really benefit from the new rules are large tax preparation firms like H&R Block. And, of course, none of those big firms are commenting on the IRS' proposed rule change.

From SF Chronicle via Pam's House Blend.

| | Posted by Magpie at 12:02 AM | Get permalink




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