There is a disturbing trend overtaking American politics, whereby the wealthy, the corporations and the politicians legislate separate rules for them to play by than the rest of us are forced to play by. One of the best places to see that is in the IRS's policy.
Records showing how thoroughly the Internal Revenue Service audits big corporations and the rich, and how much it discounts the additional taxes assessed after audits, are being withheld from the public despite a 1976 court order requiring their disclosure...[IRS] lawyers concluded that no court order existed...Professor Long responded by sending Mr. Keith a copy of the order. [Yet] the agency has no plans to release the information, Mr. Keith said Friday."
- New York Times, 1/10/05
FOR THE REST OF US:
In 2004, "[during the] drafting of a huge spending bill, [GOP lawmakers] added a provision that could give staffers on the House and Senate appropriations committees broad access to Americans' tax returns." And in 2005, "The Internal Revenue Service collected information on the political party affiliations of taxpayers in 20 states."
- Washington Post, 12/3/04; Tacoma News Tribune, 1/6/06
So basically, for the Big Money interests, i'ts total secrecy, to the point where court orders protecting the public's right to know are being defied to protect the fat cats' ability to rip off taxpayers. But for the rest of us, its open season for Republican operatives and IRS thugs who want to use citizens' most personal financial info for their own shady purposes. It is, in short, a right to ultimate, dicator-like secrecy for the wealthy and powerful, and not even the very basic right to minimum privacy for ordinary Americans.