Sunday, January 17, 2010

Data mining helps New York catch tax cheats

"Every piece of personal information is on the table these days at the tax department, where a desire to collect taxes on the underground economy is prompting new and aggressive tactics. Comiskey, a one-time Mafia prosecutor, has been armed by lawmakers with new powers. His staff is for the first time pulling information from third parties into a continuous river of information about businesses and individuals."

"The department is just getting started on its new project to collect clues from third parties.

Comiskey wants to pour every available piece of information about a business into a computer database, where it can be quickly sorted, matched and analyzed.

The information will come from both private industry and state agencies. Surprisingly enough, the volumes of personal information collected by other government agencies — such as the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Health Department and the Department of State — are not already systematically collected and analyzed by tax auditors.

That is, in part, because the information has not always been kept in computer form, and, in part, because no one asked for it."

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