Here's something to think about before you go online and before the upcoming April 15th tax deadline:  The Internal Revenue System has gone high-tech in the digital age, tracking your movements online in an effort to snuff out tax evaders.

Consumers are already familiar with Internet "cookies" that track their movements and send them targeted ads that follow them to different websites. The IRS has brought in private industry experts to employ similar digital tracking -- but with the added advantage of access to Social Security numbers, health records, credit card transactions and many other privileged forms of information that marketers don't see.

Okay, so the government is watching your movement online.  But what are they doing with the data?  Obviously, the Fed isn't saying much.  But, experts anticipate that the IRS is doing some of the following:

  • Charting and analyzing social media such as Facebook.
  • Targeting audits by matching tax filings to social media or electronic payments.
  • Tracking individual Internet addresses and emailing patterns.
  • Sorting data in 32,000 categories of metadata and 1 million unique "attributes."
  • Machine learning across "neural" networks.
  • Statistical and agent-based modeling.
  • Relationship analysis based on Social Security numbers and other personal identifiers.

All told, the tax collector is using this data to research and find "suspicious digital movement" - the type that could be masking unlawful tax evasion.