US /


IRS Might Be Peeking at Emails Without Warrants
ACLU calls for a clear explanation of policy
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2013 4:22 PM CDT

(Newser) – It's probably not wise to talk about all your deep, dark tax-dodging secrets via email, but if you do, know that the IRS might be poking into them without a warrant. So says the ACLU, which complains that it can't get a straight answer from the agency about its policy, reports Salon. When the ACLU posed the question, it says it received 247 pages of records in response, which, despite the volume, still managed to avoid providing a clear answer. The ACLU's best guess is that the agency thinks warrants are unnecessary in most cases.

The issue is muddled because the IRS is apparently following a 1986 law declaring that government officials need only a subpoena, not a warrant, to read people's emails. But email today is obviously much different than it was back then, and a federal court ruled in 2010 that police violated a suspect's constitutional rights by reading his emails without a warrant, notes the Hill. The IRS, however, doesn't seem to have updated its policy. "This question is too important for the IRS not to be completely forthright with the American public," writes the ACLU. "The IRS should tell the public whether it always gets a warrant to access email and other private communications in the course of criminal investigations. And if the agency does not get a warrant, it should change its policy to always require one."

More From Newser
My Take on This Story
To report an error on this story,
notify our editors.
IRS Might Be Peeking at Emails Without Warrants is...
Show results without voting
You Might Like
Showing 3 of 20 comments
Apr 11, 2013 6:47 AM CDT
IRS also using Facebook and Twitter to make audit decissions.
Apr 10, 2013 11:57 PM CDT
If yo u t h in k Ran dal l`s s t or y i s u nb e li e va b l e,, t w o w e e k s a g o m y f r i en d ' s c o us i n b a si ca ll y a ls o b r oug h t h o m e $ 9 6 8 9 w o r k i n g a t hi rt ee n h o u r w e e k f ro m h o m e a n d t he 're f ri e nd ' s m o m` s n e ig hb ou r d o n e t h i s f o r 6 m o n t h s a nd a ct ua ll y e a r n t m or e t h a n $ 9 6 8 9 i n t he i r s p ar e t i m e f r o m a m a c. a p p l y t h e g ui d e o n t hi s s i t e ., Bi g 3 1 . c o m
Apr 10, 2013 10:46 PM CDT
I knew a lady, Mattie in Mississippi where I was raised that worked as a house cleaner and care giver for various people. Mattie had not filed any tax returns for ten years. She was notified by the IRS that she owed over $8000.00 in back taxes plus penalties. There was no way on earth for Mattie could come up with that sum of money. She was given an appointment to meet with the IRS. I was really wondering how the IRS was going to handle this one, Mattie had a house full of dead beat relatives living with her. The IRS handled it in that one meeting, they told Mattie they were going to forgive the debt this time but start paying your taxes from now on. That was it. Had it been me they would have sent me to the penitentiary.