Ideas

Biden's Total Financial Surveillance

What if every one of your noncash financial transactions was automatically reported to a beefed-up, audit-hungry IRS?

|

Imagine living in a world where every one of your non-cash financial transactions—a restaurant meal, a Venmo transfer to a friend, maybe some bitcoin bought on the dips—was automatically reported to a beefed-up, audit-hungry IRS.

That dystopia will become a reality if President Joe Biden gets his way. Biden, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and key Capitol Hill allies such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) are pushing a vast, intrusive financial surveillance system in the name of closing the "tax gap."

But don't worry: There's no need to fear if you've got nothing to hide.

"For already compliant taxpayers, the only effect of this regime is to provide easy access to summary information on financial accounts and to decrease the likelihood of costly 'no fault' examinations," the Treasury Department said this May in a nakedly authoritarian document called "The American Families Plan Tax Compliance Agenda." But "for noncompliant taxpayers," the department continues, "this regime would encourage voluntary compliance as evaders realize that the risk of evasion being detected has risen noticeably."

The administration's proposed "comprehensive financial account reporting regime" would dramatically increase the types of financial institutions and transactions exposed to the feds' prying eyes. "All business and personal accounts from financial institutions, including bank, loan, and investment accounts," would be forced to "report gross inflows and outflows" to the IRS. And not just bank accounts: The dragnet would now include PayPal, settlement companies, and "crypto asset exchanges," for starters.

The new domestic surveillance program, which requires congressional approval, is one prong of a tripartite strategy for transforming the entire global financial system into a harmonious, haven-free collection funnel to the IRS. The second part, which has taken up the bulk of Biden's multilateral diplomacy thus far, is getting the industrialized world to agree on a global minimum corporate tax of 15 percent, while setting up a system to prevent multinational companies from registering their profits in the lowest-tax jurisdictions.

Cutting corporate taxes is "a self-defeating competition," Yellen said in April, "and neither President Biden nor I are interested in participating in it anymore. We want to change the game."

In July, representatives from 130 countries, including finance ministers from the G-20 representing the world's richest democracies, agreed in principle to a worldwide minimum corporate tax. "We have a chance now to build a global and domestic tax system," Yellen crowed. "The race to the bottom is one step closer to coming to an end."

The agreement still has a significant obstacle to overcome—namely, the legislatures of 130 countries, including the U.S. Congress. But Yellen has some cause to be cocky, because the third prong of Washington's strategy has already been constructed.

In 2009, President Barack Obama promised to generate $210 billion in new tax revenue over 10 years by cracking down on "overseas tax loopholes." While the corporate-tax element of the plan was quickly killed by lobbyists, the individual component remained in the form of the 2010 Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). Built on a foundation of American exceptionalism (the U.S. is one of only two countries that tax citizens living abroad), FATCA imposed onerous new annual reporting requirements on Americans with more than $10,000 in overseas financial institutions. The law brazenly threatened international banks if they didn't rat out their U.S. clients to the IRS.

The results were predictable: Expats were locked out of banking services, record numbers of mostly middle-class Americans renounced their U.S. citizenship, and IRS collections went essentially unchanged. But for a very small political price (no one much cares about the estimated 9 million Americans living abroad), Washington was able to bend an entire global financial system to its will.

An IRS with the ability to compel global transaction data sounds like something out of a Philip K. Dick novel. Yet here we are—unless we consciously cover our tracks.

"Another concern is that [the] information reporting regime will shift taxpayers toward a greater use of cash," the Treasury Department's compliance plan frets. It also notes that cryptocurrencies "already pose a significant detection problem by facilitating illegal activity broadly including tax evasion." Cash and crypto may be the last currencies compatible with privacy.

"I promised to lead the world to deliver a foreign policy for the middle class, and today, we are doing just that," Biden said after the 130-country agreement. Just as long as the middle class has nothing to hide.

NEXT: Brickbat: Respect My Authority

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

Please to post comments

89 responses to “Biden's Total Financial Surveillance

  1. Is Welch writing more now because the other writers are so embarrassingly ignorant and terrible at their jobs?

    There are so many Democrat proposals on the table right now intended to literally destroy the foundation of this country, and the fucking retards at reason are still arguing about dirty skank hookers and whether or not people should be able to ivermectin even though we've spent years arguing people should be free to take weed, coke, opiates, and hallucinogens if they choose.

    1. Also I forgot. If ENB is this obsessed with sex workers... Is it safe to assume her father was a hamster and her mother smelt of elderberries?

      1. Was the hamster’s name Boo?

        1. "Was the hamster’s name Boo?"

          Dunno, but judging from some of her streams, it at least successfully went for her eyes before she put her makeup on...

          1. Find USA Online Jobs (800$-95000$ Weekly) safe and secure! Easy Access To Information. Simple in use. All the Answers. Multiple sources combined.GEd Fast and trusted. Discover us now! Easy & Fast, 99% Match......

            Start now................ VISIT HERE

        2. You sir, have excellent taste in RPG's. Cheers old timer.

          1. Start making money this time… Spend more time with your family & relatives by doing jobs that only require you to have a computer and an internet access and you can have that at your home.CXq Start bringing up to $65,000 to $70,000 a month. I’ve started this job and earn a handsome income and now I am exchanging it with you, so you can do it too.

            Here is I started.…………… VISIT HERE

        3. I liked Baldur's Gate 2

      2. I suggest we fart in their general direction. Repeatedly!

      3. I fart in her general direction!

    2. So why wouldn't the 51% of Americans with $0.00 tax liability not want the 49% who are their their milk cows watched over, more carefully?

      1. Best explanation.

      2. Because this information will be shared not only to government agencies but financial institutions as well. This is only the beginning of total transparency of the little people. Not being paranoid, just being realistic given past history.

        1. I think it's safe to assume that Google / Facebook et all (and by extension their allies in the governments "alphabet" agencies) already has the technology to find out anything and everything about anyone who uses a computer online. No need for example to register firearms, because they already know who all the firearms owners are - just by collecting search histories and e-commerce. This horse left the barn years ago... doesn't make it right, but it's definitely already the case ...

          Even Apple who was a corporate hold out regarding privacy rights now WANTS to surveille all the images you've ever snapped with your iphone or stored to the cloud. Of course, they've been doing it all along!

    3. There are so many Democrat proposals on the table right now intended to literally destroy the foundation of this country, and the fucking retards at reason are still arguing about dirty skank hookers

      As it turns out, that's what much of the so-called "libertarian" movement has been for a long time: a meaningless distraction from actual politics.

    4. My favorite: black tar makes the world, and all the people in it, a better place. One big Manson family- for the children.

    5. In between supporting wars before declaring "I never supported that war" and worrying about Russians being under his bed, Mr. War on the Rocks has an occasional thought that might slightly contradict the NYT editorial page. This is his one for the year

    6. Woke Reason, in their "TDS delusion" thought Biden was the man to slay the Dictator Trump. They can't admit they were wrong, yet. Biden, or at least those behind the cognitively declining Biden, are showing what real dictators are all about.

    7. The Los Angeles police department (LAPD) has directed its officers to collect the social media information of every civilian they interview, including individuals who are not arrested or accused of a crime, according to records shared with the Guardian.

      https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/sep/08/revealed-los-angeles-police-officers-gathering-social-media

      Our financial and social media information will soon have to be "chipped" into us at the rate we are going. Any politician who agrees with this crap should be voted out of office (at the minimum).

    8. Funny how techie libs touted crypt o as being anonymous and outside the reach of governments

  2. Cryptocurrencies tend to be lousy about privacy because transactions just be published in the public blockchain ledger. They are pseudonymous, and it just takes one slip up to expose the person who is associated with a given wallet.

    1. There are fully anonymous cryptocurrencies, and there are generic ways of anonymizing any cryptocurrency. In addition, crypto wallets aren't like physical wallets; for cryptocurrencies, you tend to create a new wallet for every transaction.

      1. Exactly. There are lots of ways to make sure your transactions stay anonymous.

  3. Biden wants total control. With humility.

    1. And empathy.

      1. And all within normal parameters.

      2. Or cognition

  4. A lack of privacy is the price we pay for civilization.

    1. Wait, I thought that was taxes.

      Maybe we should just tax privacy.

      1. Excellent. "Total transparency is a basic human right."

  5. "That dystopia will become a reality if President Joe Biden gets his way."

    Dystopia is a harsh word.

    When Koch-funded libertarians overwhelmingly supported Biden, it's not fair to say they voted for a dystopia. Instead they voted for the candidate who would promote a more billionaire-friendly economy. And by that standard Biden has delivered.

    #LibertariansForBiden

    1. It's beautiful to watch you spoon feed their bullshit right back to them. Don't even read the articles, right to the satire that shreds their worldview.

      Hey Reason, I hope your soul is worth a shot at writing for WaPo

    2. Your parody game has improved significantly. Koch whores gonna Koch whore

    3. OBL....Never stop. 🙂

  6. What if every one of your noncash financial transactions was automatically reported to a beefed-up, audit-hungry IRS?

    I just assume that's already the case. The only saving grace is that with a million little snippets of information being reported to the government about every human being on the planet every single day, they have no way of analyzing this Niagara of information. They've got an encyclopedia of knowledge about you, but they also have an encyclopedia of information about every other person and who's got time to be searching that many encyclopedias? Rather than discouraging them from collecting information on you, you should be encouraging them to collect as much as possible, flood them with information, cram it down their throats until they choke on it.

    1. That only works so long as you can be camouflaged by the multitude, Jerry's. Stick your head up as someone to be noticed, on the other hand, and you will be. In the same way a specimen is noticed under a dissecting microscope.

      1. It also presumes technological limits on data parsing and analysis that we continue to expand. At some point any state-level entity will have the computational resources to process terrifyingly complete data about their entire population.

        This might be an effective short term strategy, but it's doomed in the long term. In the long term, we have to limit the state's ability to gather the information in the first place.

    2. Selective enforcement is part of the plan. They don't need to get everyone who breaks the 'law', they just need to be able to target any particular individual and then dig through that person's data until they find the 'law' that they broke.

      1. As Stalin said, "You show me the man and I'll show you the crime."

  7. I don’t know if anyone who is a “compliant “ taxpayer.

    1. Oh, you probably do. Plenty of people have participated in the Taxpayer Compliance Measurement Program.

    2. You can't be; even the IRS can't figure the tax code out.

  8. "Another concern is that [the] information reporting regime will shift taxpayers toward a greater use of cash,"

    Well then, it's a damn good thing the government can't just stop printing cash, isn't it?

  9. So - - -
    Lois Lerner was the canary?

    1. Dee hardest hit

  10. That dystopia will become a reality if President Joe Biden gets his way.

    If only there was some way to have avoided all of this, Mr. Matt "If it was going to be close in my state, I might have considered holding my nose and voting for the person most likely to supplant the eminently fireable incumbent" Welch.

    We are not going to forget.

    1. remind them every day

    2. Looka da looter Kleptocracy fanboy crying that the other looters kicked sand in The Don's face and got the boodle and pelf--holding his pocket-handkerchief before his streaming eyes! This is comedy!

  11. Meh. If only the IRS could track all non-monetary transactions, assess fair values, and demand income taxes, then we could fund even bigger government programs. Imagine the potential tax values of meals prepared for family and friends, home repair, yard work, and sex.

    1. We had to tax the village to death to save the village.

    2. It’ll be important to keep track of how broke everyone is in the future.

  12. THE + IRS = THEIRS

    1. You forgot to log into your sqrlsy account dumbass

      1. The only dumbasses here are you and the others who think I run multiple handles. Anyone who knows me knows I'm too lazy for that shit.

        1. Why would anyone want to know you?

    2. That one's not bad.

    3. Oooo! I'm'a tell my friends I thought of that one myself, thanks.

    4. Nice one....quite inventive.

  13. IRS appears to be fully incompetent - I just got my refund check yesterday and it includes the amount I told them to roll over to 2021. Now I have to adjust withholdings on about 4 different streams of income. Incompetence won't say us, however; as Gray Jay pointed out above, if they target anyone they'll pick your shit out of the pepper and flay you alive because it is impossible for any American to fully comply with the federal tax code.

    1. Just pay a quarterly. If it's that many income sources that's easier.

      That said, I recall once having a problem paying some back taxes owed from the previous year. I couldn't get the right number. I was to the point of calling and saying "give me a number. Any number near what we think it is... I'll pay it. As long as you show zero after" because I kept getting different advice from different people on the phone.

      I finally found someone who knew his ass from a hole in the ground, he refused to give me a number and said "I'll send you a letter with an exact number and we'll get it zeroed out" and it was actually a little less than what they originally claimed. But the previous three IRS agents just made things worse. 4 agents, 4 interpretations, and only one seemed to actually know what's happening and actually try to help get it done.

      This was for a $50ish error. Imagine if I had made real money, and it was a $50K payment. Or if I ask a presidential candidate the wrong question and suddenly every single real business writeoff, personal ebay sale, and venmo to the neighborhood kid who mowed my lawn comes gets reviewed. They'll find something if they look hard enough.

  14. Banks have been doing this for years trust me they examine every purchase.

  15. In July, representatives from 130 countries, including finance ministers from the G-20 representing the world's richest democracies, agreed in principle to a worldwide minimum corporate tax.

    Suddenly, fortune 500 countries will be relocating their HQs to Rwanda and Suriname.

  16. Putting all that info in the leaky IRS, and then increasing staff, means that info is bound to leak sooner rather than later, and the rich have far more interesting transactions than the poor.

    It would be interesting to see Lizzie's and Bernie's credit card transactions, for instance. Subscriptions, luxury buys, books, movie rentals ....

  17. Imagine living in a world where every one of your noncash financial transactions—a restaurant meal, a Venmo transfer to a friend, maybe some bitcoin bought on the dips—was automatically reported to a beefed-up, audit-hungry IRS.

    Imagine Reason staff would have given that some thought before the 2020 election!

    1. We need a wet mop, Depends, some Kleenex and a pot of Trump Butthurt Salve on aisle B2; carpet-biting, reality-shocked, Girl-bullying mystical Trump Boy having a hissy fit over not dishing it out now that the identical half of the looter Kleptocracy won.

      1. Incoherent, malignant idiots like you is what keeps the looter Kleptocracy in power.

  18. I am a cool girl I love hot boy:) ❤️ My snap,skype and phone number at the link ❤️ ==>>
    18date.pw/id66489

  19. always a good day to repeal the 16th.

  20. If Biden implements his total financial surveillance system as well as he implemented the withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Taliban will end up taking over all of our tax revenues.

  21. Red meat, but never has a chance of becoming reality. Not even the sheep will go for this lunacy.

    1. They got close with the Patriot Act.

      Banks report 10K transactions now. They also have major penalties for avoiding the transaction, so say you normally do over $10K in receipts and bank every couple of days, start banking more often so you're dropping $9K in and you get reported for evading the reporting laws. Or do a couple of deposits for $5500 instead of one for $11K, you'll get reported for evading.

      Damned if you do, damned if you don't, and all to "stop terrorism." And somehow this is acceptable.

  22. What a coincidence, this is exactly the infrastructure you'd need in place to impliment a wealth tax.

  23. The goal is to expose all the dark money donors. The rest of it is just fodder.

    1. This is why we have the Bill of Rights and other protections: to stop the tyrant king wannabees from using the power of government to hurt their opponents.

      Let's get the Tyrant King George III's opinion on a financial panopticon: "Cool!"

    2. The goal is to grow the IRS and make the government everyone's daddy

      Fixed it for you

  24. If you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about. Also, Hurray! for returning to having a normal, empathetic, middle-class, blue-collar working President in the White House. Ole regular guy Joe! No mean tweets is what makes it the best! All that criticism of the media by our previous President was really destroying our country.

    I just can't wait until next month to find out what executive, bureaucratic dictate will be put in place to move us even closer to normalcy.

  25. "That dystopia will become a reality if President Joe Biden gets his way"

    Promises made, promises kept.
    https://democrats.org/where-we-stand/party-platform/

    1. Hey, looka dat! Looters are finally learning to read platforms! The 1972 Libertarian platform is only 2542 words--a 17-minute read even if you move your lips...

      1. The 1972 Libertarian platform is only 2542 words–a 17-minute read even if you move your lips…

        Yes, and look at what the country turned into after 1972! But, hey, even if people get slaughtered in pointless wars, the state goes bankrupt, and the government becomes authoritarian, people like you can pat yourself on the back for what a good job you have done at upholding what you consider "principles". It's people like you who have murdered libertarianism.

  26. Tyrants. This is a violation of the 4th amendment.

  27. Just another step in China's footsteps. Surprised they aren't coming out with a digi-dollar to replace cash. Coming soon 'emotion tracking' and 'social credit'. Gotta keep those subversive domestic tear wrist types at bay.

    Makes one wonder what the next "shot heard around the world" will be about.

  28. It's good that we got rid of Trump, 'cause now we've defeated authoritarianism.

  29. "There comes a time when a man must spit on his hands, hoist the black flag and begin slitting throats." H.L. Mencken

  30. But no more mean tweets, so on balance, this is a win fot libertarians.

  31. This will make it so much easier to take everything from everybody.

  32. Republican, Bull Moose, People's Party, Prohibition Party and Democrat Party looters voted in the 16th communist manifesto Amendment. None of their platforms offer to repeal it, and the entrenched looter Kleptocracy is subsidized by the IRS since 1971 thanks to Tricky Dick from Yorba Linda. Cowards who quailed instead of voting Libertarian are to blame, not their clueless, senile figureheads.

    1. Cowards who quailed instead of voting Libertarian are to blame, not their clueless, senile figureheads.

      Idiots like you are to blame, people who don't understand the first thing about politics and jerk off while writing manifestos and fantasizing about principles.

  33. The most amusing part of this proposal is how much the rank and file people love it. They all think Amazon is going to get stuck because all these new auditors, etc. They don't seem to understand that all these narcs and the reporting rules will be leveled at people who have no ability to financially fight the IRS but who make enough money to make it worthwhile to send them a letter and shake them down for $12k or 40k at a time.

Comments are closed.