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The IRS and your (non) right to privacy when banking offshore

Reporting from: Lapu Lapu, Philippines

We already know that your money has no fifth amendment protections. The government can force you to testify against yourself in many offshore tax trials… great to know the United States has a Constitution, right?

Now the US government has announced that your money has no fourth amendment protections, either. In the era of Big Government, your privacy and economic freedom is a thing of the past.

One would think that here on the beaches of the Philippines, tax policy would be the furthest thing from mind.

Yet half a world away in the Land of the Free, the IRS and FBI are fighting for their right to read your private, personal emails within a broad set of guidelines.

The IRS, you ask? Why yes; haven’t you heard of the global War on Tax Evasion? The War on Terror is so 2006. We’ve moved on. (Please continue to take your shoes off at the airport, though.)

Now, don’t be concerned that the United States Constitution has something called a Fourth Amendment to protect against warrantless search and seizure. This is serious – we could be dealing with tax evaders. Maybe even a traitor with money offshore

In an era when government does whatever it pleases, that’s enough to light a flame to what is hailed as the guiding light of “America”.

In 2008, a US Circuit Court ruled in US v. Warshak that no-warrant searches of emails were illegal. Perhaps not so much any more.

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act authorized government to do as they wish with your online data, and agencies like the IRS are now fighting to hang on to those powers. Amazingly enough, they believe your expectation to privacy is that you don’t have one.

Shocking, right? The mere fact that government agencies like the IRS could access your email without a warrant is stunning.

Funny, I thought I had heard of the right to privacy somewhere. Perhaps that was just more government propaganda from “the freest country on earth”.

You know how a bank robber who gets away with enough heists starts getting cocky? His cockiness causes him to be lazy. He starts missing little details. It’s the same with the government.

Early last decade, they told us they needed to listen in on US citizen’s phone calls without a warrant – because of the evil threat of terrorism. Few objected. Even some in the laissez faire crowd used the tired line “if you have nothing to hide…”

So now, just like the robber who’s gotten away with it a few too many times, government is getting lazy. Their excuses to deprive you of freedoms are getting weak. They were empowered by society’s apathy to take away practically any freedom they want and they’re taking advantage.

After all, nobody spoke up the last time.

The US government doesn’t even need “real”, pressing issues of national security to confiscate your Constitutional rights now. Some guy might be underreporting his income from a taco truck; we must hack into his email to get to the bottom of this!

Everyone must pay his fair share, Constitution be damned!

Few Americans would go so far to say that the US government is tyrannical. Yet a textbook definition of tyranny is when the government has rights they don’t allow you to have. When “Anonymous” hacked into government computers, it was “cyber terrorism”. When some teenager hacks into a Gmail account, they’re charged with a crime.

But in the Land of the Free, the government plays by different rules. It’s not even subject to a vote; they’ll just let their goons in the court system do their dirty work.

I’ll be in the Sultanate of Brunei tomorrow. You may know that the Sultan, whose family has ruled the tiny oil mecca for 600 years, re-wrote the Brunei Constitution several years ago to make himself infallible.

Rewriting the constitution to suit one leader’s whims sounds pretty authoritarian – and it is – until you consider that a “free” government can get away with tossing out the constitution as they please, as well.

When it comes to going offshore, the United States is actually far worse off than Brunei. A scary thought.


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