Government agencies are not known for being harsh critics of each other. After all, they’re in the same taxpayer-funded family. So you know something’s really wrong when the General Accounting Office — the government’s normally-tame watchdog — harshly criticizes fellow bureaucrats.
The GAO says your tax returns are pretty much an open book. In fact, in 1994 and 1995, over 1,500 IRS employees were investigated for unauthorized snooping. And that’s only the ones who got caught!
But it’s also possible that no one’s looking at your return — because it could well be lost. The GAO says that about 6,400 data tapes containing taxpayer info cannot be found. In other words, the IRS lost them. (Of course, IRS employees may have just lent them to their friends to browse.)
In addition to the fact that the IRS doesn’t really know who’s looking at your return, or even whether they actually have your return, there’s always the question of where your money actually goes. But that’s an Outrage for another day.