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Losing Income Tax Privacy Is a Real Danger
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Last week the New York Times published some of President Trump’s 1980s and 1990s tax returns information. The information detailed President Trump’s financial difficulties during that time. While you would not know it from reading some media reports, this is old news. In fact, President Trump openly discussed his financial difficulties on his popular reality television show.

What should be of great concern is the possibility that the person who leaked the returns — who the paper says has legal access to President Trump’s tax records — is an IRS employee seeking to undermine the president. This would hardly be the first time an IRS employee has leaked confidential information because he disagreed with the taxpayer’s politics. In 2014 the agency had to pay the National Organization for Marriage 50,000 dollars after an IRS employee gave names of the group’s donors to the group’s opponents.

In 2014-2017, my Campaign for Liberty group was repeatedly threatened by the IRS because it refused to give the agency the names of and other information about its top supporters. Fortunately, the IRS rescinded the regulation forcing groups like Campaign for Liberty to violate supporters’ privacy or face legal penalties. However, campaign finance reform legislation that recently passed in the House of Representatives would require the IRS to resume collecting this information, and the New York attorney general is suing the IRS to force the agency to reinstate the regulation.

The right of groups like Campaign for Liberty to protect their supporters’ privacy was upheld by the Supreme Court in NAACP v. Alabama. As Justice John Marshall Harlan wrote, “Inviolability of privacy in group association may in many circumstances be indispensable to preservation of freedom of association, particularly where a group espouses dissident beliefs.”

Traditionally, presidents have used the IRS to harass their political opponents instead of presidents’ opponents using the IRS against them. Franklin Roosevelt audited people critical of the New Deal and supportive of the America First movement. Lyndon Johnson ordered audits of opponents, and John Kennedy shared tax return information with Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee.

During the Obama administration, the IRS targeted groups opposing Obamacare. The agency went after anti-Iraq War groups during the George W. Bush years.

If the Times did obtain Trump’s tax returns information from an IRS employee, that employee is not in the same category as whistleblowers like Edward Snowden or Chelsea Manning who exposed government wrongdoing. The leaker or leakers of President Trump’s information are releasing private tax information.

The IRS regularly violates the civil liberties of taxpayers generally. In fact, the income tax system forcing taxpayers to reveal potentially incriminating information on their tax returns violates the principles of a free society. Americans’ liberty and prosperity will never be secure until Congress repeals two great mistakes of 1913: the income tax and the Federal Reserve.civil

 
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  1. Rational says:

    THE DOJ AND IRS SHOULD INVESTIGATE AND CHARGE THIS TAX LEAKER.

    The Democratic party is a criminal enterprise and the Deep State is a wing of the criminal Democratic Party.

    The DOJ should not ignore this crime and investigate and charge these criminals: the leaker and the NYT reporter and lock them away for decades, for leaking Trump’s tax returns.

    If the President can be a victim of crime like this, and the criminal gets away, it means the USA itself is a criminal state.

    • Replies: @somewhat awakened
  2. “… who the paper says has legal access to President Trump’s tax records ….”

    It stopped being legal access when the purpose for that access was not official business.

  3. Were Dr. Paul actually reading here, I know I’d be preaching to the freaking Deacon, but still, let’s get to the roots. Just HAVING an income tax to begin with – f__k you very much, 1913 state legislators! – is a big invasion of privacy. Before this travesty, it was not the US Feral Government’s business where you worked, how much money you made, whether you have loans to anyone, or anything else about your finances.

    Ahh, crap, I wrote this before reading the last paragraph. Thank you, Ron Paul. Let’s not forget Amendment XVII specifying direct election of Senators. Maybe that was not quite as big a deal as Amendment XVI (income tax) and the Federal Reserve Act, but it took away state’s rights by taking away much power from legislators, often making them into just butt-boys for the Feds.

    • Replies: @Western
  4. Muggles says:

    As a CPA I can attest to the fact that it is a federal felony for a tax preparer to disclose a tax return or its contents, identifiable to an individual or tax filer, unless you have written consent from the taxpayer. Fines, jail and loss of the PTIN identifer which permits preparers to file federal returns.

    As a result, unless under court order, preparers don’t disclose returns w/o written consent. I am uncertain as to how far this extends. If say, IRS transcripts are legally obtained (say by a lender or attorney w/ consent) and subsequently “leaked” or disclosed to the public or others. I think this would also be a federal felony.

    The IRS itself, and DoJ and others, have strict rules about disclosure also. You can be fired, convicted and jailed for this as an employee or agent.

    Now of course the NYT and others are playing “gotcha” over tax information, the sources of which are murky or concealed.

    Illegal disclosure is the ultimate “doxxing” of personal information. Your livelihood is what keeps you fed and housed. Those details could led to harassment and targeted disinformation/hate campaigns by those wishing you harm or financial ruin.

    This tax confidentiality issue is not trivial. Big Tech now can and will shut you up as much as possible. Loss of tax privacy lets them get you fired or financially ruined if you run a trade or business. Or your employer doesn’t want secondary harassment/hate campaigns. Then you can be both voiceless, broke and potentially homeless. Just where they want you.

  5. @Rational

    If anyone thinks that the criminality is limited to a particular political party they are displaying ignorance, bias, and serious blindness; perhaps willful, perhaps not.

    As far as the crime which has been committed by a Federal Employee who holds a public job, one which allows access to privilleged information, and has violated the trust that job entails and the oaths which they took to obtain said job; prosecution is mandatory at the maximum level.

    This is so NOT “whistle blowing”: something which involves reporting of GOVERNMENT or Corporate violations of laws and Constitutional guarantees to citizens; NOT the theft of otherwise guaranteed by law to be confidential information, particularly collected under threat duress and coercion to the citizens by said Government.

    As with any leak to news media of restricted information; there is no grounds, nor should there be, for prosecuting the sharing of what has been revealed. It is reprehensible that this stolen PERSONAL private information, otherwise guaranteed to be protected by the government who required it to be submitted, was subsequently published; and it speaks negative volumes about the organization which chose to violate the inherent privacy which is universally understood, even if only mythically, in this Country.

    The possibility of a civil suit against the publisher is real. I hope it is exercised!

    The USA IS a Criminal State and displays its disdain for the rule of law daily, if not by the moment, across the world and throughout the Country. If you are just now comining to that realization, at least you are now enlightened.

  6. Western says:
    @Achmed E. Newman

    Did individual states have income before the Federal govt? I would say any income tax whether by the Feds or states is intrusive. The least intrusive might be property tax or sales tax if you have to have some taxes. It should be as little as possible.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  7. @Western

    Did individual states have income before the Federal govt?

    Good question, Western, but I don’t know the answer. If it is affirmative, then that still does not bother me like the blanket Federal tax. If one of the “various states”, as the Founders and other people back in the day, used to say, had an oppressive tax/regulation system, one could move somewhere else – secondly, at the State level, people have quite a bit more input. This was the whole idea of the States as “experiments in democracy”, a concept made impossible due to the huge increase in power of the Feral Gov’t.

    I say, tariffs are one thing, but other than that, any money to run the Feral Gov. should be raised by the States in whatever way they chose, and then paid into the budget on a population-rated basis. This is my idea, and it has lots of advantages:

    1) States’ rights, of course. They can decide how to implement taxes the best way.

    2) Incentive for an accurate, fair counting of population. Though they get more electoral votes with more people, their tax payment would be higher. These incentives cancel out.

    3) Way more control of the budget, as state legislators don’t want to have to tell the residents that taxes will go up, and/or there will be a new KIND of tax. There would be a real reason for State Legislatures, US Senators and Reps, to push back on any kind of budget increases at the Feral level. Increases would hurt their popularity directly.

    Call that Amendment 28 – it can nullify Amendment 16 while it’s at it.

    • Replies: @Western
  8. Western says:
    @Achmed E. Newman

    There would be no federal taxes then? Each state would be told the amount they owe the Feds determined by the population of each state, but then each state would create a tax to get the money to pay the feds on top of whatever taxes they need for the state budget.

    Ideally, the federal govt would do very little but defense and border patrol.

    Some of the big states have a lot more rich people so wouldn’t a poorer state like Mississippi be harder hit on federal money since California could just tax their wealthy progressively to help pay the federal tax, while the poorer states would have to get more from the average people.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  9. @Western

    Thanks for the reply and good discussion again, Western. Pretty much what you wrote in your 1st 2 paragraphs is what I mean, except I had mentioned tariffs in my comment #7. Now, that could be a whole nother argument that you can conveniently get into right under Pat Buchanan’s latest column, here on unz.

    Tariffs were the MAIN METHOD that the Fed Gov had for raising money for longer than the 1st century of this nation’s existence, so they are obviously not something the Founders had a problem with.

    As to your 3rd paragraph – I’ve heard that argument before, but I don’t see it as any problem at all. You’re right, Cali could tax the living daylights out of the “Tech” barons and come up with all their funds. Poor ole’ Mississippi would have to come up with the money in alternate ways. I’m sure the legislature could get pretty damn creative about it. ;-} It’s not really much of a tourist state, except for the small Gulf Coast, so they could tax things related, but whatever else, here’s the thing, Western: The 2 Mississippi US Senators would be very, very inclined to keep the US budget from ever-rising, as it does now. So would their State Legislators, whose job it would be to find ways of coming up with the fair share* of the Fed Loot. That’d be the same for every non pie-in-the-sky-thinking rich state.

    .

    * BTW, back to the census bit, for a poorer state, sure, you still want your x number of Congresscritters in Washington, FS, but you also really have an incentive to keep the census numbers down (kick out the illegals, so they won’t be counted) to keep your share of the expenses down too, right?

    • Replies: @Western
  10. Western says:
    @Achmed E. Newman

    Good points about the congressman in MS wanting to keep Fed spending down and also about keeping illegals out.

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