This year has seen numerous scandals followed by public concern over the extent to which government agencies are violating their privacy rights. Much of the focus has been on the NSA and national security, but the bigger threat to domestic rights may ultimately come from the IRS.
A few years ago, Congress passed the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) in its mindless mission to spend any amount of money pursuing a relative pittance of uncollected tax dollars. As CF&P has repeatedly shown, the law is a disaster in the making that fruitlessly harasses overseas Americans while handicapping America’s overall ability to compete internationally, and will do great harm to the US economy.
In brief, the law threatens foreign financial institutions with penalties if they do not spy and report on the information of American clients. All Americans who live, work or invest overseas also have additional, duplicative and costly new paperwork and reporting requirements that come with stiff penalties for even the smallest oversights. These Americans, in other words, are expected to live without financial privacy rights of any kind.
The IRS wants to know exactly what any American who banks or invests overseas has and where they have it, which raises an important question: Do you trust the IRS to know everything about your finances? Right now, FATCA directly impacts just a few million Americans (though indirectly harms many more with the damage it does to the economy), but the history of government programs suggests FATCA will only grow over time. What is being asked of overseas Americans today will likely be asked of all Americans in the near future.
The potential for abuse in allowing the IRS access to information on every asset you hold is tremendous. We’ve already seen how such information can be exploited for political purposes when an agent leaked the confidential donor list of the National Organization for Marriage. Even worse, the agent involved is being protected by the very law that failed to safeguard taxpayer information. The IRS also violated federal law when it shared taxpayer information with other agencies. Taxpayers, it seems, have no legitimate right to privacy, but the bureaucrats who harass them do. Is this a system and agency you would trust with expanded powers under a global FATCA regime?