These days, you will find the IRS at the most unlikely places. Think social media, think Facebook, MySpace and a myriad other such sites. IRS agents have been scouring these social media sites to locate errant taxpayers who owe Uncle Sam some money. Does it work? You bet.
Some unwitting tax dodgers have been giving hints on their whereabouts and goings-on in usual social media sharing style not realizing their own undoing. Nebraska tax agents managed to trace a deejay after he posted on his MySpace site about an upcoming public gig he was going to do. They got him to pay up $2,000 in tax debts. Another MySpace account holder in Minnesota posted to say that he was going back to take up a new job as a real estate broker in his hometown and even gave the name of his new employer. That was all the information the authorities needed to levy the back taxes that he owed. The long-time wanted tax dodger paid up in full.
Social media sites are not the only type of sites the taxman may look through to find tax evaders.
The California state government that has been so cash strapped it had to take drastic cost cutting measures like making it compulsory for all government employees to take 3 days' compulsory unpaid leave every month, managed to collect a four-figure amount of taxes owed by a man whose occupation was listed as 'sail rigger'. Thanks to the power of search engines, a tax agent managed to find details of the man in a forum for riggers. One thread had a forum member ask the whereabouts of the man because his shop had closed. A reply said that he 'moved across the bay'. With that information, the tax agent caught up with the man and got him to pay up.
Tax officials in Nebraska found a taxpayer through searching in Google which listed him as a local marketing representative for a national firm. Finally, they got him to pay up the $30,000 in taxes he owed.
But as novel as these methods are, there are limits as to how much the tax agents can use them. In Nebraska, for instance, the agents are only allowed to use information that is found in the public domain. That means MySpace is more suitable than Facebook in this respect because each MySpace user has a profile that is publicly readable whereas Facebook users' personal profiles are only viewable by an approved list of friends.
Unlike Nebraska, Minnesota and California, some of the other states have not used such means to detect errant taxpayers. Massachusetts, although a very aggressive in tax collection, has no official plans to employ these methods.
Some other states like Wisconsin and Oregon are open to these unconventional ways.
Darrin T. Mish is a veteran, nationally recognized tax attorney who has focused on providing IRS help to taxpayers for over a decade. He regularly travels the country training other attorneys, CPAs and enrolled agents on how to handle their toughest cases with the IRS. He is highly ranked among the top attorneys in the country, with an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell and a perfect 10 on Avvo.com. Martindale-Hubbell has also honored him with a listing in their Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers. He is a member of the American Society of IRS Problem Solvers and the Tax Freedom Institute. With clients on every continent but Antarctica, he has what it takes to solve your IRS problems no matter where you live in the world. If you would like more information about his practice and how he can help you, please call his office at (813) 229-7100 or toll free at 1-888-GET-MISH.