IRS Uses Google Maps to Spy on Taxpayers

Agents from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are using Google Maps as part of their tool kit to audit taxpayers and organizations, The Daily Caller has learned.

redacted IRS letter dated Sept. 8, 2011 reveals that at least in one case the IRS’s examiners used photos of a property, obtained through Google Maps, as evidence to revoke the 501(c)(4) status of a homeowner’s association.

“The road consists of a two-mile loop around the inside of the property. It goes not have any sidewalks or bicycle lanes. The examining agent printed and copied a map from Google Maps (www.google.com) into this report,” states the letter.

501(c)4 is a tax-exempt status that includes certain “social welfare organizations,” “local associations of employees,” “homeowners associations,” “volunteer fire companies,” and certain lobbying organizations.

The IRS became mired in scandal in May 2013 after a report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found that IRS staffers had singled out tea party groups seeking 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status for extra scrutiny.

The agency did not return The Daily Caller’s request for comment for this report.

In formal guidance issued to IRS agents inspecting historical conservation sites, however, Google Maps and the online real estate database Zillow are mentioned as tools to help determine whether a property meets the regulatory requirements necessary to receive charitable contributions.

In addition to using freely available aerial and street photographs to survey property, agents are also encouraged to use search engines to research background information on suspected tax cheats.

Read more at The Daily Caller

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