How to be a truly anonymous tax informant? (Internet privacy)

The recent “deadbeat dads and daughters” thread inspired me to take action against an acquaintance of mine, who’s been dodging his income tax duties for years because he would be on the hook for child support if he filed properly. Hearing about the struggles of worn-out single mothers who are just too beat to spend all of their time and money chasing after the deadbeat dads, made me realize just how badly this asshole needs to be nailed. He’s an abrasive character who does his best to alienate everyone else and judge them for their sins (literally), while infuriating everyone who knows him with his own disregard for any consistent moral code that extends beyond self-indulgence.

Now, I’ve never been one to drop the dime on anyone. Normally I have little or no respect for those that do. But I’ve come to realize that my role here would be as a whistleblower, not as a snitch. At best this guy will step into his ex-lover’s shoes and slave away to pay his poor child what he owes him; at worst, the deadbeat might at least get a visit to the slammer to learn some important lessons about how and when to keep his mouth shut, and how to straighten out his act. (It’s something this guy badly needs to learn, incidentally. As evidenced by the fact that he told me, hardly his closest friend, that he’s committed serious tax fraud.) It might do him a lot of good; he’s a raging alcoholic and “recovered” (his word) drug addict who’s bounced from program to program for free rent and meals, using his proclaimed piety–every one of these recovery programs is at a church, BTW–to extort cars, loans, etc. from his well-meaning co-parishioners. I have reason to believe he regularly steals drugs from his workplace (the details of which we will not go into, here) and drives drunk.

Back to the issue at hand. I’ve set up a free email account with no personal identifying information strictly for the purpose of communicating with the relevant tax agencies. I have not been in contact with them yet, but I believe the promises of anonymity on their websites. Still, I don’t want to take any chances. So, Straight Dope security geeks, what can I do to detach my personal information from this process as much as possible?

Edit: Although I’ve gathered quite a bit of information about informing on tax fraud, I’d appreciate some help about any child-support agencies I can contact as well. Unfortunately, I don’t know where the child lives, I don’t know the exact address of the deadbeat and I don’t know which California county the child was born in.

I don’t know how much IP header info goes in to a send from a free webmail service, but sending off an email from a library computer is a pretty safe bet at anonymity (wouldn’t be sent from your IP). As long as you signed up for the account as John Doe, you’re good.

Also, plenty of fun anonymous stuff gets done on TV cop shows via disposable cell phones and pay phones.

I’m not really sure what you’re asking. I think you’re afraid that someone will figure out which computer was used to send the anonymous emails, thus blowing your cover. If that’s the case, then send those emails from an anonymous computer, such as at a public library or internet cafe.

I don’t know if this is true or not, but an acquaintance in a position to know told me the other day that every tax informant is checked into themselves as a matter of routine. If you can’t do it anonymously, and opt to do it and identify yourself, I hope your records are squeaky clean.

Mine are. I’ve documented every dollar so far, and so far it hasn’t totaled up to the standard deduction in any given year (on a state or federal level). No worries. Thanks for the warning, though.

Use gloves, make a document in Word, print it, and scan it to a PDF, then take it to Kinko’s, and print it on their machine. Then mail it to the IRS. Use the self adhesive stamps, and cheap drugstore envelopes. Mail it from a late night box in front of a post office late Friday.


“It was a woman drove me to drink and I didn’t even have the decency to thank her.” ~ W.C. Fields ~

And if the city on the postmark is a giveaway, mail it to a friend and have them mail it to the IRS.

Adding a conspirator is less secure than mailing it from a Sectional Center Facility mail box. Mail left at the box in front of the Post Office after business hours on Saturday is centrally postmarked. So, if I did it in my home town, it would be post marked “Northern Virginia” and that’s fairly close to anonymous. I could drive over to Maryland, or as far as my paranoia dictated. Since the person in the OP did not mention committing any major felonies, I figured the general area in which he lived was not critically revealing.


Even I find it disquieting how well I understand conspiracy. I would assure you that I am not a criminal, but were you to do the same, it would not allay my suspicions either.

Yes, just mail it. I don’t think you really need to worry about fingerprints and saliva.

For the love of God, tell him you’re going to do this unless he sorts his life out in 90 days. And stick to your promise, either way.

Sneaking around behind this deadbeat’s back… it’s not informing the Stasi that your neigbour has been listening to the world service, but it’s not too far off.

Hmmm…Number 1 on the list would be not to post a question containing quite so much detail on a bulletin board read by tens of thousands of people.

But now that that water is under the bridge…make sure you don’t include an uniquely identifying information in your letter/email. If you’re the * only * person that the subject has told a particular secret to, then it’s going to make you pretty obvious once the authorities come a knocking.

I bow to your superior knowledge of subterfuge. :slight_smile:

So, you don’t want a reward? :wink:

For pity’s sake, just fill out the form they make available and mail it off without your name & address on it, if you want to do something but are that worried about having your cover blown.

By the way, expect the IRS wheels to grind exceedingly slow. I reported my ex for tax evasion to the feds over a year ago, and to the best of my knowledge not a thing has happened to him yet. :mad:

Thanks for doing your part to destroy society!

I figured after he did his best to wreck my life, I needed to return the favor.

Are you an anarchist, by any chance?

Well, I’m not dissimllar to a libertarian, and they’re not dissimilar to anarchists :wink:

I just understand the true nature of the state. There are some things that he could have done to try and wreck your life that would have justified that action, but not many things.

Well, as far as I’m concerned my action was more than justified (sorry, no details will be forthcoming). You’re welcome to agree or disagree on principle, but in the end it makes no nevermind to me. :cool:

Heh, well under the circumstances I can neither disagree nor agree with your action in particular, but can only note that in general I disapprove of said actions in general!

I’ve known him for enough "90 days"es for him to sort it out. This guy has brought so much misery to the world around him–and not in the semi-innocent “Oh, it pains my optimist soul to see my friend/coworker/neighbor stumble around drunk” way–and fucked over his child to the extent that he doesn’t deserve any warning.

I do, too. I know plenty of other people with tax shelters and ingenious tax evasion strategies and I’m not about to report them–because they’re not running from their responsibilities as fathers.

I reported some clown I didn’t like to the IRS in April of 2006 for taking $100,000 in unreported kickbacks. They still haven’t contacted me yet. When I asked my tax guy about it, he said that anything under two million goes straight to the bottom of the priority pile. He did say though, that there was still a remote possibility that they would eventually act on it—he said I might just get a call one morning out of the blue a year from now.