Taxation is one of the most pervasive ways that governments threaten the privacy
To implement tax policies, governments must collect truly massive
quantities of data. This includes name, address, phone number, (U.S.) Social Security
Number, income, occupation, marital status, parental status,
investment transactions, home ownership, medical expenses, purchases, foreign
assets, charitable gifts, and so on.
The list is very, very long because politicians are addicted to social
engineering through tax policy. Anyone compiling a dossier on our behavior
would find the files of the taxing authorities their best resource by far.
U.S. Senate hearings in 1998 revealed that some Internal Revenue Service agents
had illegally searched through the tax records of their neighbors.
Tax returns had also been transported by ordinary bicycle couriers and treated without
regard for the personal financial information they contained.
Loss of privacy is a direct cost of most tax laws, which could be reformulated
to reduce the need for broad collection of individual financial information. Made
fair and easy to comply with, rather than complex and punitive, tax laws would
see high compliance without requiring reporting and investigation of individuals'
personal financial details.
Tax Reform: The Key to Preserving Privacy and Competition in a Global Economy, by Dan Mitchell Ph.D.,
Institute for Policy Innovation (February 7, 2002)
Brother or Financial Privacy?, by Daniel J. Mitchell, Heritage Foundation
(November 29, 2000)
"The IRS and Domestic Surveillance" section of
Why You Can't Trust the IRS by Daniel Pila, Cato
Institute (April 15, 1995)