SUBSCRIBE NOW AND SAVE $1 for 6 months of unlimited news



American Opinion: Don't let the IRS spy on our bank accounts

American Opinion: Given the invasiveness of the proposal, it needs to go away. Congress should ignore the demands of the Biden administration and make sure this extraordinary approach to tracking of the bank accounts of average Americans never happens.

The Internal Revenue Service headquarters building in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/TNS)

The Biden administration is actively pushing Congress to require banks to report to the Internal Revenue Service on the account activity of a huge swath of Americans. This unwarranted snooping would be an invasion of privacy, and lawmakers should make sure it doesn't happen.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and the IRS have asked Congress to mandate banks send along annual inflows and outflows from accounts with at least $600 or $600 worth of transactions. That's a low bar that would expose the majority of bank accounts to additional scrutiny.

The administration claims this would allow the IRS to conduct audits more efficiently.

In reality, it's all about the federal government trying to squeeze Americans for additional tax dollars in an effort to fund Democrats' $3.5 trillion budget wish list. Or as Yellen phrased it in a letter to Congress, the government has "a shortage of necessary funds for key national priorities." Biden officials estimate this could bring in upward of $400 billion over a decade.

This is a sleazy way to go about it, and it offends Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure. Taking all these records and sifting through them for possible audits is an incredible overreach and an unprecedented invasion of the privacy of untold millions of Americans.


It's also none of the federal government's business.

Business and banking groups are pushing back hard, as are some state legislatures.

The Small Business Association of Michigan and the Michigan Bankers Association are among them. The proposal would be cumbersome for financial institutions to implement, and they have raised concerns about how this could put the financial information of consumers at risk.

Rann Paynter, president and CEO of the Michigan Bankers Association, says the plan would hamper both financial institutions and consumers.

"It's certainly a burden to the holders of those accounts, and an invasion of privacy to Americans for that type of information to be shared with the IRS," he says. "It's a lot of information to provide to the government that is not necessary."

Paynter notes that if the IRS is concerned about some individuals or businesses avoiding their share of taxes, the agency already has the tools it needs to investigate.

The pushback has caused House Democrats to put aside the proposal for now — at least in its existing form. They are still considering a version that would impact fewer people.

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., has noted the concern over the negative impact this could have on low-income Americans, whom Democrats purport to want to help. Yet Kildee, who is on the Ways and Means Committee, also said the issue isn't "completely gone," according to The Wall Street Journal.


Given the invasiveness of the proposal, it needs to go away. Congress should ignore the demands of the Biden administration and make sure this extraordinary approach to tracking of the bank accounts of average Americans never happens.

This American Opinion editorial is the opinion of the editorial board of The Detroit News.

©2021 The Detroit News. Visit The Detroit News at . Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

American Opinion

Related Topics: NO-INDEX
What to read next
Summary: But the fundamentals haven’t changed and bear repeating: The safest way to avoid infection is to avoid large groups and wear a properly fitting mask. Fully vaccinated and boosted people are still vulnerable to infection but tend to have milder symptoms, whereas unvaccinated people are the ones currently overwhelming hospitals.
Summary: Leiserowitz sees the emergence of “a fundamental shift in society” that could quickly spill over into political action, as with same-sex marriage and other fast-shifting issues before it. “You’re beginning to see the coalescing of a powerful citizens’ movement demanding that leaders act, both business leaders and government leaders.”
Summary: We seem determined to let omicron run its course, but as the virus burns through the population, what carnage is it leaving behind? More deaths. Sick children. Vaccinated people who are now saddled with long-term illness and disability. But if we can’t rely on our institutions for protection — or even reliable information — the virus itself may be the least of our worries.
American Opinion: The insurrection might have come as a huge surprise to most Americans, but these investigations suggest it should’ve been no surprise at all, especially for their social media hosts.