Drumbl on Social Media and Tax Enforcement

Michelle Lyon Drumbl (Washington and Lee University School of Law) has posted “#Audited: Social Media and Tax Enforcement” (Oregon Law Review, Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

With limited resources and a diminished budget, it is not surprising that the Internal Revenue Service would seek new tools to maximize its enforcement efficiency. Automation and technology provide new opportunities for the IRS, and in turn, present new concerns for taxpayers. In December 2018, the IRS signaled its interest in a tool to access publicly available social media profiles of individuals in order to “expedite IRS case resolution for existing compliance cases.” This has important implications for taxpayer privacy.

Moreover, the use of social media in tax enforcement may pose a particular harm to an especially vulnerable population: low-income taxpayers. Social science research shows us that the poor are already over-surveilled, and researchers have identified various ways in which algorithmic screening and data mining can result in discrimination. What, then, are the implications of social media mining in the context of tax enforcement, especially given that the IRS already audits the poor at a rate similar to which it audits the highest earning individuals? How can these concerns be reconciled with the need for tax enforcement?

This article questions the appropriateness of the IRS further automating its enforcement tactics in ways that may harm already vulnerable individuals, makes proposals to balance the use of any such tactics with respect for taxpayer rights, and considers how tax lawyers should advise their clients in an era of diminishing privacy.



Zalnieriute on “Transparency-Washing” In The Digital Age

Monika Zalnieriute (University of New South Wales – Faculty of Law) has posted “”Transparency-Washing” In The Digital Age: A Corporate Agenda of Procedural Fetishism” (Critical Analysis of Law, 8(1) 2021, Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Contemporary discourse on the regulation and governance of the digital environment has often focused on the procedural value of transparency. This article traces the prominence of the concept of transparency in contemporary regulatory debates to the corporate agenda of technology companies. Looking at the latest transparency initiatives of IBM, Google and Facebook, I introduce the concept of “transparency-washing,” whereby a focus on transparency acts as an obfuscation and redirection from more substantive and fundamental questions about the concentration of power, substantial policies and actions of technology behemoths. While the “ethics-washing” of the tech giants has become widely acknowledged, “transparency washing” presents a wider critique of corporate discourse and neoliberal governmentality based on procedural fetishism, which detracts from the questions of substantial accountability and obligations by diverting the attention to procedural micro-issues that have little chance of changing the political or legal status quo.

Monti on the Digital Markets Act

Giorgio Monti (Tilburg Law and Economics Center) has posted “The Digital Markets Act – Institutional Design and Suggestions for Improvement” on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

The Digital Markets Act (DMA) is a major policy initiative to regulate platform gatekeepers in a more systematic manner than under competition law. This paper reflects on the institutional setup in the Commission proposal. While the DMA is well-designed, this paper recommends improvement in the following aspects: (i) matching the DMA’s objectives with obligations imposed on gatekeepers; (ii) facilitating co-regulation; (iii) streamlining the enforcement pyramid; (iv) emphasising the role of private enforcement; (iv) clarifying the role of competition law.