Big brother’s big mouth


Information about individual tax debts is now freely available to anyone on the Federal Tax Service’s official web-site. Big brother is not only watching you, he announces your private business.

Starting this Monday, anyone can obtain information about any person’s tax or penalty due on, the Internet resource of Russian tax authorities. The service is free of charge and easy to use: just enter a name and this person’s tax number.

Information about tax debts, the taxmen say, is not confidential nor is it a commercial secret and, therefore, it can be disclosed to the general public. ‘Tax secret,’ states the FTS’s press office ‘is any information obtained by the tax authorities about a taxpayer, except information about his or her tax number or any tax offences or penalties’.

Now, and this is a part of the plan, those who owe money to the treasury will face additional difficulties borrowing, renting property or making other deals. It has already been announced that those on the ‘black list’ would not be able to leave the country.

And that list can be a lengthy one. Even a penny, interest for an unintended delay in paying any one of a variety of taxes, or when an employer had not paid the payroll tax on time, can tie an unfortunate culprit to the nationwide whipping post.

The taxmen can be right in their facile assessment of law, yet it is amazing how readily they put the treasury under the threat of massive legal actions: the odds with the system are destined to be astronomical. Thus, the note of shame will quite often be not only ethically questionable but factually incorrect.

Perhaps they do not expect people to sue. And that is an interesting experiment to watch.


February 9, 2010
photo: Phototom -