Ste. Genevieve : 573-883-3056
St. Louis : 314-260-6120
NASHVILLE : 615-733-8168
Toll Free : 888-367-6512

IRS Authorized to Circumvent Warrants Regarding Personal Electronic Records

According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the IRS can read your electronic communications. In 1986, the Electronic Communication Privacy Act gave government agencies such as the IRS the authority to examine any electronic communications older than 180 days. Even if you erase all your messages and statuses, rest assured that social networks, phone companies, and ISPs have not. Digital records, especially texts, are incredibly cheap to store. As such, there is a comprehensive open book of what many think of as "private communication" available to the government. The Electronic Communication Privacy Act specifies that a judge's warrant is not necessary for a government agency to snoop through your records. An attorney's subpoena -- basically, a request to conduct any investigation -- is sufficient. Note that prosecuting attorneys have incredibly wide powers to designate almost anything of interest as an "investigation." As such, their desire to obtain records about your personal credit card purchases, emails, search history and social network posts is easily satisfied. Nevertheless, there is hope for resistance to virtually endless IRS intrusion.  Stored electronic communications are counted as a type of "private property" of the organization providing the messaging or transaction services. Companies such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook and others have resisted IRS requests, insisting on a harder-to-get warrant from a judge. Legislators have also noticed. Some pushed forward a bill that would curtail the authority of government agencies to obtain private electronic communication. Despite prospects for restrictions of IRS powers, keep in mind several facts. First, relevant legislation (if any) is very unlikely to be retroactive -- to apply to electronic communications already on record prior to the legislation's enactment. In addition, companies have no obligation to resist IRS inquiries. Of course, companies have every legal right to cooperate with government agency requests. They are prevented from doing so only by their own discretion, within limits of the law. You can take steps to ensure privacy. To diminish the possibility of potentially incriminating information haunting you years into the future, keep tax-related communications off the electronic record. Letters and personal meetings are a small price to pay for strong legal protections in matters of tax law.


How Can We Help?

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Ste. Genevieve Office
150 Merchant Street
(By Appointment)
Ste. Genevieve, MO 63670

Phone: 573-883-3056
Fax: 573-883-3095
Ste. Genevieve Law Office Map

St. Louis Office
3636 South Geyer Road, Suite 100
(By Appointment)
St. Louis, MO 63127

Phone: 314-260-6120
Fax: 314-238-7201
Map & Directions

Nashville Office
424 Church Street, Suite 2000
PMB 293
Nashville, TN 37219

Phone: 615-733-8168
Map & Directions

Review Us