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Andrew Henderson

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Taxman Spying: How to Live in the IRS Surveillance State

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Dateline: Lakeland, Florida, United States Any astute investor understands that the largest and most persistent threat to his or her asset appreciation is taxation. That’s why old money and big corps take their profits – and keep their cash – in low tax jurisdictions. If you’re at all unsure on this point, please run the numbers for yourself. Calculate your asset appreciation with and without taxation. (My condolences if you’re in a high tax jurisdiction and have never run these numbers before.) Getting your money offshore, however, is not a complete fix – tax-gatherers can still make you miserable, even if you’re 100% within the law. Taxing agencies are notorious for chasing and punishing the innocent. What you want is to stay away from the taxman altogether. Fortunately, we know how the tax-gatherers are finding people to bother and, if we pay attention, we can reduce our odds of turning up in their dragnets.

Where The Tax Man Is Looking

Imagine, if you will, that you’re a tax agent. Every company you visit will hate you, even though they try not to show it. When you inspect their office, you can feel the anger and may even face actual danger. All that instinctive revulsion makes it hard for you to maintain your “I’m a force for good” self-image. So, wouldn’t it be easier if you didn’t have to chase down tax cheats that way? Wouldn’t it be better to do it from your comfortable office… especially in the winter? Of course, it would, and that’s exactly what mass surveillance allows the tax-men and tax-women to do. They can remain in their offices, bop around the Internet at their leisure, and tap into government surveillance databases to find targets. Now, if that sounds like a civil rights violation to you, you’re correct. Nonetheless, that’s exactly what’s happening these days. And to prevent cases like this from getting thrown out of court, the tax agencies have developed special tricks.

The NSA and IRS Manual

There is a trick for bypassing inconvenient things like bills of rights. The US version is called “parallel construction.” And, believe it or not, the IRS has a manual that tells its agents how to do this. In actual practice, parallel construction is a three-step process: 1. Dig through illegal mass surveillance databases to find ripe targets. 2. Once you figure out how to prosecute the target, create an alternate way of finding the necessary evidence. In other words, patch together a legal path to the damning information without ever mentioning the illegal surveillance that pointed it out to you. 3. Lie to the court and tell them that you found your information via the “legal” path described above. So, parallel construction is a way for the taxman to use illegal information to hang you… and at the same time, to keep things clean-looking. And, as I mentioned above, we know they’re doing this because part of their manual has been posted to the Internet!

But That’s Not All…

If this weren’t bad enough, word broke last year that the IRS (and their Criminal Division, no less) believes that “the Fourth Amendment does not protect communications held in electronic storage, such as email messages stored on a server.” So, if you’ve been storing messages in a free service like Gmail, bad luck for you! The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 allows government agencies to obtain emails older than 180 days without a warrant. Of course, Google makes noises about protecting their customers, but when the needs of Joe E. Podunk – who pays them not a cent – come up against the demands of a government that can pull their plugs, which way do you think they’ll go? So, now that you know what the tax-men are doing, and you know that normal Internet use leaves you as a sitting duck, what are you going to do about it? For most people, the answer to that question is “nothing at all.” As long as everyone else plays sitting duck and keeps pecking away at their iGadgets, they’ll do the same, afraid of taking any action that might rock a boat. Some of us, however, believe what we see with our eyes and aren’t too intimidated to act on our own. For such people, I’m pleased to provide some information on protecting yourself:

The Down & Dirty

Let me give this to you straight: If you don’t want to be in the taxman’s database, you’ll have to act, and that means spending time or money. Also, you’ll have to stop posting your information to Facebook, Google and the rest of the freebee services. And you must stop use free email. If those things are too hard for you, then you may as well stay with the rest of the crowd and wait your turn. Sorry to be blunt, but that’s the truth. If you care, you can do this: 1. Spend the time to learn security on your own. If you want to go that route, here’s a free guide to show you how. Or… 2. You can buy a discount VPN and pretend that you’re safe. Sure, the NSA has already blown through dozens or hundreds of VPNs, but you can always say “I have a service,” and tell people that you’re not to blame. Or… 3. You can buy a real security service. I’ll give you a short list of things to look for below, but rest assured that you’re not going to find a quality service for five or ten bucks per month. (The service I manage charges $275. per year.) You can’t provide security that stands up to professional attacks for pennies; that’s a silly dream. So, good for you if you chose number one or three, and good luck to you if you chose number two. If you want to find a professional service, demand these protections: 1. That the service runs its own Private Key Infrastructure. You don’t have to understand what that means, but you must ask. 2. They must provide 2+ hops. Again, you have to ask and get a yes or no. 3. They must have human customer service people. I suggest that you look around, then do something about the problem.


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