Though the use of social media to catch tax evaders has recently become a hot subject, your so-called “private life” may have been a subject of interest for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for several years. As far back as 2013, observers of the U.S. tax scene have urged individuals to make sure activity on social media “backs up what you’ve submitted to the IRS.” These same sources add that you may need IRS tax problems help if you boast about your mini-vacations you are taking in combination with business trips, and you write it all off as business expense. Until recently, the agency has denied using social-media information as part of the audit process. But that is gradually changing.
What We Know So Far
Media reports from 2013 indicate that the IRS was only using information on tax returns for audits. At the same time, the agency stated that its auditors were monitoring publicly available information to “assist” with existing work. Skip forward four years and another veteran IRS watcher noted, “The IRS is using all these social media sites to look for suspicious patterns and taxpayer information.”
The key to avoiding these issues involves working closely with experienced professionals who understand the process thoroughly and can resolve IRS tax problems. In the past few months, an office under the IRS banner confirmed what many only suspected in the past. The IRS letter stated, “the IRS currently has no formal tool to access this public information, compile social media feeds, or search multiple social media sites.”
The Formal Tool
Now, the IRS is actively looking for a “social media search tool.” The goal is to have the ability to access publicly available social media information (provided or advertised by businesses), such as new products, current sales, and new locations. With this tool, the agency would be able to track chat room activity, forums, and blog threads. In addition, the IRS wants to be able to access photos, current address, and marital-status changes.
In sending out this notice of intent to have an effective social-media tracking tool, the agency added the new technique will help auditors on “previously identified cases.” It will “not be used to search the Internet or social media sites” to start new audits.3
The motivation behind this significant change comes from several sources, including growth of the federal budget deficit, billions of dollars less in corporate tax receipts, and a declining number of auditors working for the IRS.
Need Help with a Tax Problem? Speak with a Professional
Do not be misled into thinking the social media subject is harmless and simple. The process can involve a lot of intricacies that call for professional expertise. If you have any kind of IRS tax debt, speak with an IRS tax attorney at the Law Offices of Nick Nemeth. A team of experienced IRS tax lawyers, with years of experience in helping individuals and businesses, can help you navigate IRS tax debt problems. For a confidential, no-obligation consultation with one of our lawyers, fill out our contact form or simply call (972) 627-4580.