The Internal Revenue Service is receiving a great deal of criticism after allegations that it relies on social media and emails as an investigative tool into potential tax law violations being committed by Americans.
For example, if a person submits a suspicious tax return in which they claim little income, but then post pictures of a luxury purchase or string of vacations they took, this could prompt greater scrutiny by the IRS, Digital Trends reports.
The charge has led to a great deal of scrutiny about which means the federal agencies can and cannot use to prosecute potential lawbreakers. When it comes to social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, the law may be on the side of the IRS if it relies on public information to support its claims, according to the news source. Information that is made publicly might be fair game for federal agents, and many professionals across different industries - ranging from divorce attorneys to insurance agents - have used information publicly posted on Facebook and Twitter in a legal atmosphere.
However, the IRS has denied using social media in any form to go after Americans.
"Suggestions that the IRS is using social media to target taxpayers for audit are wrong," an IRS spokesperson told Fox Business. "Audits are based on the information contained on a person's tax return, not a posting on a social media site."
However, the IRS recently got into hot water for its controversial policy of reading taxpayers' personal emails without a search warrant. In a U.S. Senate hearing, Acting Commissioner Steven Miller said that the no-warrant-required policy would be eliminated within 30 days for e-mail communications, according to CNET. However, he did not elaborate on whether other types of private communications would also fall under this suspended policy.