IRS Using Facebook to Catch Tax Cheats

fb_iconAs tax time rolls around once again, many desperate individuals will game the IRS to avoid paying in their share. However, the IRS is adopting some high-tech countermeasures to catch tax fraudsters, including monitoring suspected tax cheats’ Facebook profiles.

“It’s hard to believe that anybody who puts anything on Facebook has any legitimate expectation of privacy,” Edward Zelinsky, a tax law professor, told Marketplace.

Of course, the IRS is tight-lipped about its exact methods for tracking people down, but sources indicate the government agency is stepping up its data mining and online activity tracking to create an even bigger picture of U.S. taxpayers. They may also monitor social media sites like Facebook for evidence of tax fraud, like pictures of splashy and expensive purchases.

As invasive as these practices are, the IRS is only capable of finding information that you have publically provided on your social media profiles. If you want to keep your data safe from prying eyes, be sure to lock down all of your privacy settings on Facebook and ensure only the audiences you want to reach can see your content. And if you’re afraid the IRS could ding you for something on your Facebook profile, simply don’t post it at all. That’s still the best way to avoid landing in hot water with the government – or anyone – gathering information from your profile.