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The Taxman's Web Spider Cometh

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the crawling-towards-an-audit dept.

Privacy 178

Juha-Matti Laurio writes "A five-nation tax enforcement cartel has been quietly cracking down on suspected Internet tax cheats, using a sophisticated Web-crawling program to monitor transactions on auction sites and to track operators of online shops, poker, and porn sites. Austria, Denmark, Great Britain, and Canada have joined The Netherlands in pursuing the 'Xenon' program with the assistance of an Amsterdam-based data mining company. Wired News reports that the Web crawler uses so-called 'slow search' to avoid creating excessive traffic on a site or drawing attention in the sites' server logs." The article notes that the US IRS will neither confirm nor deny using similar technology.

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Re: the tax man cometh (2)

rustalot42684 (1055008) | more than 6 years ago | (#17785526)

I guess this is further evidence that there are two things one cannot escape - death and taxes.

Re: the tax man cometh (-1, Offtopic)

alfs boner (963844) | more than 6 years ago | (#17785548)

Go fuck yourself, asshole.

Re: the tax man cometh (5, Funny)

Snarfangel (203258) | more than 6 years ago | (#17785610)

I guess this is further evidence that there are two things one cannot escape - death and taxes.

Yeah, but death only comes for you once.

Re: the tax man cometh (3, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 6 years ago | (#17785840)

Yeah, but death only comes for you once.

Well can you tell him that? I don't mind the company, per se, when spends some time sitting at the foot of my bed, but I could do without the anticipatory gleam in his eye. It's very disconcerting.

I think he's hoping that a bit of insomnia might just push me over the edge.

KFG

Re: the tax man cometh (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786680)

I had to come back and post again when I saw the current Slashdot FOTD is:

"There are no winners in life; only survivors."

Well, I got a clue for ya'll; there are no survivors either.

KFG

Re: the tax man cometh (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#17785904)

That's not [dailyrecord.co.uk] true [contracostatimes.com] . Sometimes it misses, and will come back at you again and again. It's the telemarketer that won't take no for an answer.

Re: the tax man cometh (1)

Aehgts (972561) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786584)

I think Hilltop Hoods lyrics fit this nicely:
"If life's a bitch then death's a slut
'cause death comes for everyone and when it's your turn you're f#$ked"

Re: the tax man cometh (1)

balthan (130165) | more than 6 years ago | (#17785748)

Three: death, taxes, and this stupid joke.

Re: the tax man cometh (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 6 years ago | (#17785772)

I guess this is further evidence that there are two things one cannot escape - death and taxes.
But you should never have to deal with both at the same time.

Re: the tax man cometh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17785834)

And you don't. Your estate may have to deal with it if you have, err had, several million in assets however.

Re: the tax man cometh (1)

identity0 (77976) | more than 6 years ago | (#17786008)

Now, if only someone would invent a spider that could kill, then you won't be able to escape either on the internet...

"killspider -9 Anonymous Coward"

Come to America (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786778)

Yeah, we send citizens as soldiers to other countries to die, but tax the hell out of them for the privilege. Niro would have been proud.

Re: the tax man cometh (1)

loki_tiwaz (982852) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786836)

tax is the tool of tyrants in debt to money grubbing bankers who have already got most of the money in the world. try and find me the us law (not irs tax code) that says you have to pay it, as an american. a recent documentary i have seen makes it pretty clear that income tax is illegal at least in the usa.

makes sense, if you ask me, if anyone remembers their american history they'd recall that a major cause of the american revolution and war with britain was taxation. it was nearly a hundred years before the banking scum got their fingers back into the usa and until the 20th century it was fought vigourously even, in many cases, by presidents.

not sure what can be done about it but raising awareness helps a lot. everyone wishes that their gross income was their net income. what, if you had a choice would you pay tax? please. and don't trot out the old bs argument that someone needs to fund the government. not only do they get their fancy cars and massive numbers of staff but that's not even the greater part of the money they steal, the rest goes to the imf and other large international banks paying 'national debt'.

extortion by any other name is still extortion.

Re: the tax man cometh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17786996)

And this is why you shouldn't let your children post without supervision, folks. Please, think of your children!

Preferably, BEFORE you have them, and permit them to grow up to become this.

Thank you!

The Pre-Abortion Society
"Making abortion unnecessary - By reminding people that not everyone's genes should be propagated"

P.S.

You're an idiot - did your parents ever apologize to you for that?

How's this work then? (3, Insightful)

grassy_knoll (412409) | more than 6 years ago | (#17785550)

From TFA:

The spider can also be configured and trained to look at particular economic niches -- a useful feature for compiling lists of business in industries that traditionally have high rates of non-filing. "For instance, weight control (yields) 85,000 hits, some for products ... also services," says Sweden's Hardyson.

Once the web pages are screen-scraped, Xenon's Identity Information Extraction Module interfaces with national databases containing information like street and city names. It uses that data to automatically identify mailing addresses and other identity information present on the websites it has crawled, which it puts into a database that can be matched in bulk with national tax records.
So the spider scrapes a publically available site for the business or shipping address, adds that to a database and then someone at a later point checks to see if there's an income tax form from that address.

Wouldn't that generate false positives if the billing address is, say, a post office box while the corporate tax forms are filed from the home office?

simple security measure? (2, Insightful)

Travoltus (110240) | more than 6 years ago | (#17785582)

Require logins in order to see addresses or any other identifying info. You have to do that to purchase anything anyway, on a typical site like that.

If the web spider doesn't have a login name, it can't see any identifying info.

Another idea, too (2, Insightful)

Travoltus (110240) | more than 6 years ago | (#17786062)

If the IP address is from a known list of Government sites or any known spiders, redirect them to pages free of personal information.

This would also be useful in keeping spiders armed with manually-created website logins from slurping down tons of personal information for private databases... oh crap, I'm giving them ideas!

Even Better (2, Informative)

earthforce_1 (454968) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786518)

If you detect the spider, you could quietly redirect them to a honeypot full of bogus personal data and useless links to crap their database and make them waste time sifting through plausible but useless data. The generated "customer" names and addresses can even be real, just combine random first and last names plugged into http://findaperson.canada411.ca/ [canada411.ca] and add the returned names and addresses to your customer database. Voila!

( I was recently screwed by the taxman despite making rigorous efforts to adhere to their byzantine rules, so I have no longer have any moral qualms about helping others fight them )

Re:How's this work then? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17785898)

Look to Europe for a "solution" to that: Every website by or for Germans that isn't strictly private is required by law to link to an imprint from every page. Non-private includes every site with a banner ad, every site with regular editorial content and of course every for-profit site. So far this has been very profitable for lawyers who send costly cease and desist letters on behalf of competing businesses to site owners who don't follow that rule. Besides, most websites already identify their owner via the domain name Whois records...

Re:How's this work then? (1)

RexRhino (769423) | more than 6 years ago | (#17785958)

Wouldn't that generate false positives if the billing address is, say, a post office box while the corporate tax forms are filed from the home office?

But unlike all other crimes, Tax Evasion is a crime where you are guilty until proven innocent. Tax authorities investigate, and the obligation is on you to prove to them that the money you make at your P.O. box is being reported at your home office.

Re:How's this work then? (1)

holdenholden (961300) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786884)

I may be missing something, but I assume that this spider will not be respecting the robots.txt directives.

If I have a honeypot link on my website that human users don't click, then I would expect the spider to fallow the bogus link and tell me about itself: its IP address, user-agent string, etc.

I can either deduce the IP block that it is coming from, or the user-agent pattern, if there is some, and then block them on the .htaccess level. I seriously doubt that the robots will be coming from multiple networks, but if they do, repeat the above procedure with the next robot.

At some point somebody will build a list of IPs or user-agent strings. It is not like the INS will use TOR to hide its IP addresses. So it is just a matter of time. I for one am not afraid to welcome this robot on my site.

I for one ... (2, Funny)

mrvan (973822) | more than 6 years ago | (#17785554)

I for one welcome our new octopedic taxiverous overlords

Re:I for one ... (3, Funny)

macadamia_harold (947445) | more than 6 years ago | (#17786040)

I for one welcome our new octopedic taxiverous overlords

What do you mean "new"?

It sounds reasonable (1)

Hao Wu (652581) | more than 6 years ago | (#17785586)

If a man or a woman or a company pays tax payment but similar man or woman or a company doesn't pay it, then that is not fair.

The man or woman or company that is not paying fair share of tax payment should pay them swiftly, with grevious infliction of back-penalty payment.

Life isn't fair (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17785688)

That is the way the tax code works.
Legally some people don't pay the taxes others do.
A man with a family and a mortgage pays less tax than someone without-eeven if he earns much more.
Two neighbors on either side of State line pay much different taxes because of where they live.

Extra-legally you don't have to pay taxes on money that doesn't show up on paper/electronic records.

Re:Life isn't fair (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786416)

Extra-legally you don't have to pay taxes on money that doesn't show up on paper/electronic records.

Extra-legally you do have to pay taxes on under-the-table transactions, it's just that it's harder to catch you and extract the requisite pound of flesh. The IRS expects their cut no matter what.

Besides, "fair" is relative.

I don't get it (2, Insightful)

Perseid (660451) | more than 6 years ago | (#17785594)

Mr. Spider sees an eBay store named Bob's Cat Toys. How do they know who Bob's Cat Toys actually is without issuing subpoenas? The address isn't necessarily listed anywhere until you buy something.

Re:I don't get it (1)

Kijori (897770) | more than 6 years ago | (#17785910)

I don't know what the situation is in other countries but in the UK, at least, any site that sells things is obliged to display their trading address (and VAT registration number) publicly.

Re:I don't get it (1)

ray-auch (454705) | more than 6 years ago | (#17786362)

I call bullshit: in the UK you don't have to be registered for VAT at all below the threshold turnover, so you can trade perfectly legally without a VAT number / registration, so you cannot be obliged to display one.

Re:I don't get it (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786514)

'' Mr. Spider sees an eBay store named Bob's Cat Toys. How do they know who Bob's Cat Toys actually is without issuing subpoenas? The address isn't necessarily listed anywhere until you buy something. ''

They send an email to Bob's Cat Toys (eBay lets you do that). "Dear Mr. Bob's Cat Toys, this is Mr. Smith from Inland Revenue. We seem to have no records of your company. Would you please contact me within seven days so that we can fill out all the relevant paperwork and can send you your tax forms. ".

At that point, when you receive the email, your legal situation has somehow changed. If you don't answer, you haven't forgotten your paperwork, you are actively withholding tax payments and right into criminal territory.

IRS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17785600)

The article notes that the US IRS will neither confirm nor deny using similar technology.

Well, if the system is effective, I certainly hope they are using one like it.

When the Cheats get away with paying nothing, that means higher taxes for those of us who are law-abiding citizens. (Well, mostly law-abiding.)

User Agent? (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 6 years ago | (#17785602)

I wonder what user agent this uses and what the legitimacy would be of data used by authorities if either the user agent was spoofed or if it ignored robots.txt?

Re:User Agent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17785690)

Yeah, I'd be really concerned about all those laws that tell you what user-agent to send with your HTTP headers.

Do what I do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17785862)

For my personal site. If the user agent isn't Mozilla (Firefox, Seamonkey, Galeon, etc), Safari, Konqueror, or Opera the user gets redirected to Last Measure.

Re:User Agent? (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 6 years ago | (#17786130)

Tech: Boss, they've placed a robots.txt file on the site & our spider can't get in !
Boss: What's a "robots.txt file" ?
Tech: It's a list of addresses that spiders are not allowed to look at.
Boss: Is it encrypted ?
Tech: No sir, it's in plain text.
Boss: *sigh*

IRS (1)

adambha (1048538) | more than 6 years ago | (#17785614)

The article notes that the US IRS will neither confirm nor deny using similar technology.
Perhaps the technology they use is not similar, but even more intrusive.

Interesting. (4, Interesting)

JKConsult (598845) | more than 6 years ago | (#17785632)

I'd be curious to see how exactly they propose to spider a gambling site. Unless you've won so much money that your name is posted on the webpage (like the winner of the Sunday Million on PokerStars), I can't really see how this is going to work. And yes, I've RTFA.

In the abstract, I'm not against it. Tax cheats are tax cheats. Now, I don't claim my online poker winnings, but that's because they amount to such a piddlingly small sum each year that it really isn't worth my time. If I were to get audited, I'm sure I'd get busted, as the winnings deposit into my bank account, and should count as income. How they go about doing it is the key. If they just use publicly available information such as the aforementioned posting on the webpage, then fine. If you're dumb enough to win that kind of money and think you're getting away with not paying taxes, then you deserve what you get.

Re:Interesting. (4, Funny)

Fezmid (774255) | more than 6 years ago | (#17785686)

Woah, I just saw a big spider walk by, read your post, make some marks in a notebook, and then walk away! Freaky!

Re:Interesting. (3, Insightful)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#17785726)

Now, I don't claim my online poker winnings...If you're dumb enough to win that kind of money and think you're getting away with not paying taxes, then you deserve what you get.

Yeah, baby! Right on! Hey, buddy. The amount don't matta. Just like Christmas, it's the thought that counts. Cheating is cheating. Fascinating bit of "logic" you got there. I have a teeny, tiny problem with people who think that a "little" cheating is ok, and that anybody who cheats more than they do is a filthy crook.

Tax cheats are tax cheats.

You think?

Re:Interesting. (5, Insightful)

JKConsult (598845) | more than 6 years ago | (#17785900)

The amount don't matta.

I knew I should have made myself more clear. Yes, I am cheating on my taxes. And yes, it's "just as bad" (I don't really think it is, and neither do you, because volume does matter, but we're both accepting this as part of the argument) as someone who sets up shady tax shelters to save billions.

What I was saying is that I win about $100 every year playing online poker. Yes, I could go to all the trouble of trying to get some sort of documentation, add it to my income, and pay the taxes. Or, I could pocket the $30 and forget about it. I do the latter. As I said, if busted, I would freely admit to it, and would accept the punishment, as I realize that I am cheating on my taxes.

There is a logic to my position. Part of the FASB (Financial Accounting Standards Board) standards include the concept of "cost-benefit" and "relevance" to reporting financials. The first may not apply here, as it basically states that if the cost of gaining the information (depreciating, say, light bulbs) outweighs the benefits of the users of the filings having it, then you don't need to worry. The second does matter. It basically states that (as opposed to something large, like property or equipment), if you're IBM and you buy a $5,000 desk for someone, they could give a flip whether you expense it or depreciate it. Because it doesn't matter. I consider my $100 winnings online versus my salary and go with the latter option, that it's so small as to be irrelevant. If the IRS disagrees, then I'm willing to pay the piper.

Re:Interesting. (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#17786038)

...I don't really think it is, and neither do you, because volume does matter...

You got me wrong, pal. I don't play that game.(Homey don't do that). Killing ten people is as bad as killing a million. Stealing one dollar is the same as stealing a thousand. I don't fudge the books with "cost-benefit" and "relevance" to reporting financials. I declare my income. I pay the percentage they demand. And do it again next year. I have no need to play the percentages of getting caught commiting fraud. If I think it's unfair, I'll say it to their face. I'll adjust my hourly rates accordingly. I might refuse to declare anything, but I will not defraud. It's just not worth it. There is no such thing as cheating "just a little". You either are, or you aren't. Your credibility account is in the red, sir

Re:Interesting. (1)

Rideak (180158) | more than 6 years ago | (#17786106)

you guys are both being stupid.

you don't even have to claim it if you make less than $2000 off of it. And don't even try to come up with a retort because my brother works for the IRS.

Re:Interesting. (3, Funny)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#17786154)

That's not what I'm talking about. My point is that I'll declare what's required. I won't try to hide anything. He thinks he's getting away with something, and that it's ok because it's "just a little". So you're kind of off base here. And my second cousin-twice removed, who works at the DMV in Kansas City and has a neighbor whose mother-in-law works in the Pentagon says I'm NOT stupid!

Re:Interesting. (0, Redundant)

JKConsult (598845) | more than 6 years ago | (#17786206)

Your brother may work for the IRS, but you work for Wrong, Incorporated.

There are rules on whether or not the gaming entity (casino, track, etc.) has to take care of the reporting. But all gaming winnings are taxable. Period. You can net those with gambling losses, but they are taxable. I don't know where you get $2000 from.

Re:Interesting. (1)

GlacierDragon (820368) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787254)

Yeah, I've never heard of a limit like that, either. However, you can deduct how much money you spent on gambling up to the amount of your winnings if you itemize, so it's moot anyway. I work with taxes, and the IRS employs a lot of people who don't know any more than anyone else. so I fully believe the brother works at the IRS.

Here's the IRS word on it: http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc419.html [irs.gov]

Re:Interesting. (1)

JKConsult (598845) | more than 6 years ago | (#17786234)

Killing ten people is as bad as killing a million.

Oh, you're one of those "there's no such thing as moral relativism" people. Fine. If you think that killing ten people is exactly as bad as killing a million, then more power to your beliefs. We're not going to have a productive discussion, because we diverge too far on the basics.

Re:Interesting. (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786420)

Well, let's just say that if you're one of those dead people it hardly makes any difference now, does it? And you're still committing fraud, if what you say is true about your winnings. You're following the footsteps of Charles Keating and Ken Lay. I'm sure they started out cheating "just a little" also. You suffer the same disease. Do you do the same to a disagreeable customer, or employer? Do you pad the bill or your time sheet "just a little"? Don't bother to anwser that. I have no way of knowing if you're telling the truth or not. Your "moral relativism" doesn't apply here, and if it does have a place in this world, you're giving it a bad name and not helping its cause. Your whole demeanor in this matter would indicate to me that you are not a trustworthy person to do business with, but in today's business climate I'm sure you will be very successful. You seem to fit right in. Hey, everybody else is doing it, so what's the problem, right? *sigh*

Re:Interesting. (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786612)

I better not EVER catch you exceeding the speed limit.
Not even by 0.5mph, because that's just as bad as going 50mph over.

Re:Interesting. (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786918)

No problem, I quit driving years ago. Your analogy is irrelevant. I'm not discussing breaking the law. The fraudulent behavior being displayed and defended have nothing to do with the law. It's the mindset. These people who say a little skimming is ok are at the very root of the problem. These are the watergate "plumbers" we'll be reading about in the papers. These are the examples they set for their kids and everybody else. But, since you brought up, I wouldn't mind seeing much heavier fines for tailgating and gliding through stop signs. And remember, Speed Kills :-Q~

Re:Interesting. (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787246)

I'm not discussing breaking the law.

Lol. There is no fraud without law to define it as so. You are just as morally relative as those you rail against.

Re:Interesting. (1)

destiny71 (731278) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786926)

Did you report that quarter you found on the sidewalk, picked up, and then put in your pocket?

Re:Interesting. (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787040)

I'll check with my tax guy to see if I'm required to do so. That's what I pay him for :-) But since I don't have to pay a personal income tax here, I doubt that I do. If I deposit in the company bank account, you can bet I would. They count every single penny there. Talk about your paper trail...

Re:Interesting. (1)

hyperstation (185147) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786942)

I declare my income. I pay the percentage they demand.

haha, sucker.

Re:Interesting. (0, Flamebait)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786978)

Whatever, I have more than enough leftover. What's your point?

Re:Interesting. (2, Funny)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786960)

Killing ten people is as bad as killing a million.

What about cutting them off in traffic? Is that as bad as killing them? That's what this is.

Re:Interesting. (0, Offtopic)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787060)

Is that as bad as killing them?

?? Well, if they die as a result...

Re:Interesting. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17786406)

It would cost the IRS more money to deal with a reported $100 income from gambling than they would stand to gain from that $100. I think that is his point. Is the IRS going to spend $300 on an auditor to collect $30 of taxes? Think about it.

Re:Interesting. (1)

Anonymous McCartneyf (1037584) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786992)

Never mind the IRS. What are you planning to do if the FBI finds out about your gambling winnings?

Re:Interesting. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17787240)

Yes, I could go to all the trouble of trying to get some sort of documentation, add it to my income, and pay the taxes.

You may want to check out the IRS rules for gambling earnings and loses [irs.gov] . Kind of a daunting task but if you plan on filing gambling loses and winnings. If you are just interested in your winnings being taxed but do not want to file a claim for expenses as well, you can enter the amount you won under the other income section of the 1040A. Contrary to your claim of that being a troublesome task, add up the gambling deposits from you bank statements. That is not hard at all.

Not that I agree with the current tax code and rates and how my tax dollars are being spent but I still follow the rules and pay what I should. I take my issues on those things up with my government officials, not the IRS. Bring it up to your legislators as well so we can all benefit. Hopefully, you will eventually get audited and have to pay it all back. You are ripping ME off, not the IRS.

Re:Interesting. (1)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 6 years ago | (#17785760)

Didn't you know? In the early years, skynet was one hell of a poker shark.

Re:Interesting. (4, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 6 years ago | (#17785890)

In the abstract, I'm not against it. Tax cheats are tax cheats.

Why? Why do people so readily accept the idea of "death and taxes"???

If our taxes actually went to reasonable uses, I'd agree with you. Infrastructure improvement, national -de-fense, international negotiation.

But no, instead we pay (in the US, at least) a third of our income toward fuck-all. I work so a quarter of the population who could work can sit at home and munch cheetos all day watching soaps. I work so some starving artist doesn't starve. I work so unappreciative kids can get their socialized babysitting and social indoctrination. I work so our oligarchy can squeeze their kids through low-GPA MBAs and perpetuate the lines of power. I work so we can kill arabs who inconveniently live too near "our" oil.



I can think of few more noble crimes than "tax cheat".

Re:Interesting. (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 6 years ago | (#17786186)

If our taxes actually went to reasonable uses

Have you been smoking crack, live in the basement, or are you just naturally ignorant ?

Re:Interesting. (1)

hyperstation (185147) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786908)

fighting the war on drugs
fighting a pointless war in iraq

yeah, i'd agree that our tax money is being wasted.

Re:Interesting. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17787102)

I guess I work so you can cheat on your taxes. The taxes I pay to cover the taxes you don't pay, and the taxes I pay so the revenue people can hunt you down, and the taxes I pay to keep you fed, clothed and sheltered in prison, all definitely taxes paid for "fuck all." You and the guy you're defending are both moral imbeciles.

Re:Interesting. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17786254)

Taxers are the real cheats. No american should tolerate income tax.

Re:Interesting. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17787252)

Now, I don't claim my online poker winnings, but that's because they amount to such a piddlingly small sum each year that it really isn't worth my time. If I were to get audited, I'm sure I'd get busted, as the winnings deposit into my bank account, and should count as income.

Now, I doubt the IRS would be interested in the tax on a small amount of money, but isn't online poker illegal in the USA? I think the government would be more interested in that.

get mining (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17785646)


The software in question is called DataDetective (win32)
http://www.sentient.nl/ [sentient.nl]

parent company
http://www.smr.nl/ [www.smr.nl]

oMg Bu5h is th3 5ucK... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17787164)

OK /., how are you going to blame this on George Bush?

Internet Tax? (1)

Srdjant (650988) | more than 6 years ago | (#17785676)

From TFA: "...suspected internet tax cheats..."
The Internet is now taxed by the government? Huh?

Re:Internet Tax? (1)

adez (967740) | more than 6 years ago | (#17785804)

The Internet is now taxed by the government? Huh?
Of course they tax the internets!
Who do you think pays to have the tubes cleaned?

Re:Internet Tax? (1)

Anonymous McCartneyf (1037584) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787008)

Read: "people on the internet who are suspected to be cheating on their taxes."

details are sketchy (3, Interesting)

PhantomHarlock (189617) | more than 6 years ago | (#17785680)

After reading the article I'm still not sure exactly how it works. How do they know who is behind the particular auction ID? Do they have access to the auction houses' databases? It appears to only use whatever information is online.

Does it also use whois information for domains? Not sure what htey are doing to correlate information. Need more details!

--M

Re:details are sketchy (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 6 years ago | (#17785756)

After reading the article I'm still not sure exactly how it works.

They've refitted the cat detector vans. Don't purr over your online earnings.

KFG

Re:details are sketchy (2, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 6 years ago | (#17785790)

Need more details!
They're crawling your post right now and will notify you of the details. ;-)

Re:details are sketchy (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 6 years ago | (#17785854)

Don't see myself how it would work for domains, unless they contact the registrar as ask for the information. As to listing sites like Craigslist, I can't see how the spider will gather anything. As to auction sites, that's easier, eBay already coughs up that information to Tax Authorities with ease.

confused (1)

rolyatknarf (973068) | more than 6 years ago | (#17785698)

Could this type of system also be used to compile a data base of people who make purchases from online stores? Could this then be used to send a bill to an individual for back taxes owed for online purchases? TFA contains few details as to how any of these government agencies has profited from this system. If all of my online purchases could be added up and then taxed then I could be in for a disturbingly large tax due bill from my state, or even from other states in the US.

Anyone know if this system has been considered for use in the United States as a means to tax online shopping?

The funding for this program (1)

nightfire-unique (253895) | more than 6 years ago | (#17785798)

.. was graciously provided by: citizens like you!

You know the old saying... death and taxes.

Re:The funding for this program (3, Funny)

Handover Phist (932667) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786782)

Yeah, but after taxes death is just a tired feeling...

This was on different news sites before (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 6 years ago | (#17785826)

Actually, they started a few years ago. According to the 'taskforce' they aren't targetting single resellers on e-bay. They are targetting (pseudo) companies that sell large amounts of stuff and thus also generating lots of income through these sites. Usually such sites also want to appear legit to their customers and probably are (except for their taxable income) also legit and thus have their contact information, website and address with the auction or at least a link to it.

I have however doubts as to how 'enforceable' this is since

1) where is the sale closed as constituted by law, it's on the internet on a server somewhere. Did you close the sale on e-bays servers in the US (which might be in another state than both buyer and seller), on the buyers computer or on your own computer.
2) where is the company then located as doing business. If they didn't file the paperwork needed to constitute a full business, and they sold something, where exactly are they doing business and thus in what state/country are they looking to be persecuted under
3) is it even legal for a government to do this, collecting evidence out of collated pieces of data in a remote database and
4) is it even legal for governments to tax those income, given that there are people that say taxes aren't constitutional (in the US there is currently no law that says we have to pay taxes) and that that income generated might be reselling stuff that has already undergone sales and income tax (second hand stuff)

Re:This was on different news sites before (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786444)

1. Where is the sale closed? Doesn't matter. You have to pay tax on your profit, and VAT on the sales.
2. Where is the business when they don't file paperwork? If they catch you, that is where the business is unless you can proof that it is elsewhere. Which you can't because you didn't file any paperwork.
3. Is it legal collecting publicly available data? Of course.
4. Is it legal for the government to tax income? Want to bet?

Re:This was on different news sites before (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786720)

1. Not necessarily. If I order stuff from a website (eg. Apple), I usually don't pay VAT (here in the US) because it's interstate sales while going to the local Apple store does get me 8% added to the sales price for tax.
2. You might have a point, although proving jurisdiction is going to be difficult
3. The government can't just collect data, submit it to a court and say you did "Bad Things (tm)". That's why we have a constitution, search warrants, the burden of proof and so. Of course some people in our government wish they could just tap into your phone lines and bank accounts without any of that.
4. And thus concluding from the above, there are people here in the US that are putting that to the test, I recently saw on the news a guy that is having his home ready for 'urban warfare', posted his property with big warnings that the government isn't allowed to come on his ground. The IRS is not a part of the government, it's a separate entity of course endorsed and working for the government but it's a separate office just as the CIA, NSA and FBI. And actually, since the right to labor is in the constitution, it cannot be taxed by the state (Murdoc vs. Pennsylvania). Compensation for Labor is your property and, as such, is an "item of income, under the Constitution, not taxable by the Federal Government " and is, therefore, excluded from Gross Income and exempt from tax under Title 26 of the Internal Revenue Code!

Re:This was on different news sites before (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17787174)

Wow. Misinformed doesn't even COME close. More like 'malinformed'.

Let's see...

1. First off, VAT and sales tax are two very different beasties (though they seem similar based on how they're assessed against the consumer on the end.) In fact, if you purchase something from a retailer overseas online, you will, indeed, be paying VAT if the locality assesses it. And if you're living in CA and order something from Apple, you can bet your bippy that Apple will make sure to tack on CA sales tax.
3. No, but the government can gather publicly accessible data, and using it, build a case that the data proves that you have, indeed, been a very naughty boy, and present their case to the court, buoyed by the data - hell, that's the definition of prosecuting a case! Now, there is some issue about whether or not the government should be allowed to buy information harvested by ChoicePoint et al. (or even if such data aggregation in the private sector should be allowed), but that's another subject (and one worthy of discussion.)
4. Please, try one of those arguments in court. Just try. You'll soon learn exactly HOW fast one can me hit with a contempt of court charge. Because, amazingly, you're NOT the first guy who thought these ideas up (and you'll definitely not be the last.) And the courts have ruled against them so many times that in the court's eyes, you're willfully not taking things seriously, and penalize you accordingly (hence why you'll now have a contempt charge to accompany your tax evasion.) I'd advise you to take the time and read through this [evans-legal.com] - not only will it explain WHY those arguments fail, it has several of the many, MANY cases involved listed.
Oh, and the IRS is very much a part of the US Government wholly - it's a branch of the Department of the Treasury. All of the other agencies you listed are wholly part of the US Government, as branches of other departments of the executive branch. Finally, there is NO SUCH THING as "Title 26 of the Internal Revenue Code". The IRC is Title 26 of the United States Code, and is then subdivided into ~6600 Sections. (It pays to not just copy and paste.)

(Heh, the captcha is "excrete". Make of that what you will.)

Re:This was on different news sites before (1)

jrockway (229604) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786800)

4) Dude, have you read the 16th amendment?

16th Amendment
  The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States and without regard to any census or enumeration.

Taxman (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17785838)

If you shop online - I'll tax the l33t
If you auction online - I'll tax your bid
If you play cards - I'll tax your split

'cause I'm the taxman

I don't see the privacy implications.... (1)

lkypnk (978898) | more than 6 years ago | (#17785846)

This is for people who are making a sizeable chunk of income from selling services. This is no different from a tax collector walking into some sort of shady store in a back alley which doesn't file taxes and auditing it. When you post something online on a site like eBay, you would expect everyone to see it, after all, wouldn't you?

Google (0, Troll)

MadnessASAP (1052274) | more than 6 years ago | (#17785882)

Don't worry in a few weeks Google will buy the company, absorb the technology and will then give everybody's tax information away in exchange for looking at small text ads. And don't laugh 'cause you know it's gonna happen

Oh no! (1)

Duncan3 (10537) | more than 6 years ago | (#17785918)

But... but... Nooooooooooooooooo!!!!

If the Internet wasn't income and sales tax free, it's just the same garage-sale and China*Mart quality junk for the same price as the big blue room by the time you add the 15$ shipping on a $2 item...

Crap, now I have to go outside.

In the UK (3, Informative)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 6 years ago | (#17785922)

it is worth noting that (in the UK) the tax men don't need to be able to prove anything has actually been done wrong in order to follow up with an investigation - at which point you have to prove that you are innocent rather than them having to prove guilt. They can ask for your tax returns and bank info etc. for the last 10 years, if you don't have it its because you're committing tax fraud... I guess this might just be able to point them in the right direction rather than doing all the work, so even with just a name it might be enough...

I just hope I don't have the same name as someone whose on the make

Ho8o (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17786042)

are looking very As to which *BSD 'I have to kill incompatibilities Raymond in his suffering *BSD officers. Others mutated testicLe of arrogance was lubrication. You

Standards ? (2, Insightful)

billcopc (196330) | more than 6 years ago | (#17786318)

Now then, shall they honor robots.txt ?

User-agent: TaxSpider
Disallow: /

But really all this means is you can file a tiny tax report for your auction/poker/porn business and get away with it, as long as you file something. How will this spider tell them whether I made 20'000 or half a million from online business ? It won't. If their method of finding tax evaders depends on published HTML, I think they're screwed from the get-go. What if the address isn't in text form, but rendered to an image, overlaid on fancy graphics ? They should be obtaining records from whatever payment intermediary is involved whether it's a bank, Paypal, or a 3rd-party credit card processor. Just having any tax report from a given address is not proof that all income was truthfully disclosed.

At the end of the day, it's still a wasted fight. States argue over where taxes should be levied. Sender or receiver ? Or maybe it should be in the state where the web site is hosted. It's all just a bunch of bureaucrats trying to claim something they had no part in. My logic is that if there is no physical involvement, there should be no taxation. Playing poker online doesn't incur any costs to the city where I live; it doesn't make use of its roads and municipal services, it doesn't burden the healthcare system with injuries or violence (e.g. bars). In fact, whether I play for fun, or wager real money has no effect on anyone but the players and the "house". This obsession with taxing everything is a fallacious concept that underscores the root issue: government is sloppy with its resources. They make up these schemes to swindle always more money from the citizens, only to piss it away. Government is supposed to act on BEHALF of the citizens, in their best interests. If government were run like a regular business, with real risks, goals and accountability, it would fail overnight. It is failing right as we speak, as we witness more and more people moving away to lower-taxed nations. When the cost of government exceeds the value of its services, those who can, leave.

Re:Standards ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17786844)

FYI: robots.txt is a "SHOULD" standard. If a robot chooses to ignore it, you have only technical options to defend your site. It will be fun to watch when a court has to decide if a trap for robots.txt-ignoring bots classifies as tax-evasion...

The Federal income tax is unconstitutional (0)

RKBA (622932) | more than 6 years ago | (#17786322)

Anyone who thinks there is a law requiring US citizens to pay taxes should watch Freedom to Fascism [google.com] by Aaron Russo.

Re:The Federal income tax is unconstitutional (1)

Watson Ladd (955755) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786712)

The constitution disagrees with you.

Re:The Federal income tax is unconstitutional (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17787242)

So? Does anybody even read that thing anymore? Well, anybody in power, anyway. ;)

Re:The Federal income tax is unconstitutional (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17786852)

Or, of course, you could realize that Russo is playing word games. And not really good ones at that.

This FAQ [evans-legal.com] explains why Russo's logic breaks down.

Re:The Federal income tax is unconstitutional (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786966)

Are you one of those whackjobs that claims the relevant ammenement is invalid because not all the states ratified identical texts?

Used items? (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 6 years ago | (#17786360)

And how about items that are used? How do they differentiate?

The taxes have already been paid, so in this case wouldn't the online auction fall in the same category as garage-sales and buy-and-sell ads?

Not that the government doesn't already happily double-dip elsewhere (houses, vehicles, etc)...

Good Reason To Protect Your Websites (1)

cvos (716982) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786576)

This seems like one of the only reasons to consider website cloaking. After all, you can opt out [wikipedia.org] of having your site indexed by Google or other search engines, you should have the right not to be snooped upon by a federal agency. If the government wants to snoop in your personal business, you have the right to defend yourself against their user agents.

The Patriot Act and other invasions of privacy such as the IRS scraping websites are indications of a severely paranoid government that is wasting taxpayer dollars on dubious projects.

If you tried to scrape any .gov site you would be visited by an army of Men In Black and you may never be heard from again.

The irony of this is the websites engaging in truly criminal activity will easily be able to cloak their websites and keep personally identifiable information from the government agent web scrapers.

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