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The IRS Bots

     
4:46 pm on Jan 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

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[wired.com...]

The "Xenon" program -- a reference to the super-bright auto headlights that light up dark places -- was started in The Netherlands in 2004 by the Dutch equivalent of the IRS, Belastingdienst. It has since been expanded and enhanced by international group of tax authorities in Austria, Denmark, Britain and Canada, with the assistance of Amsterdam-based data mining firm Sentient Machine Research.

Xenon is primarily a spider: a program that downloads a web page, then traverses its links and downloads those as well, ad infinitum. In this manner spiders can create huge datasets of web material, while preserving the relationships between pages at the moment they were spidered -- something that can reveal a lot about the people that made the pages.

4:51 pm on Jan 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Do we know if it obeys the robots.txt file?

Because I will definately want to block it.

5:01 pm on Jan 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Ha, what a joke!
5:50 pm on Jan 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I could see it being a great concerning to those ebay sellers moving lots of stuff and not claiming it as revenue on their tax forms.
6:19 pm on Jan 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

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You would be crazy to not declare income made on the Internet. Everything is electronic and traceable. Tax bots or not, trying to cheat on taxes this why is beyond idiotic.
7:42 pm on Jan 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Tax bots or not, trying to cheat on taxes this why is beyond idiotic

Actually (and at least in the US) personal earnings are related to a maximum figure and the issuance of a 1099.

Not sure if seller forums (eBay and others) or payment fourms (Pay Pal and others) are included or excluded from the issuance of 1099's?

7:55 pm on Jan 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

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1099s are related to payments for services. Payments for products have no relationship.
8:14 pm on Jan 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

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1099s are related to payments for services. Payments for products have no relationship.

Really?
You ever sell a house and get a 1099?

There are many variaitions of 1099's.

[irs.gov...]

8:48 pm on Jan 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Did anyone note they won't disclose the user agent and they claim it's a slow crawl so they can fly under the radar?

That means it probably won't read robots.txt either which would expose it as a bot.

Assuming the spider is as stupid as all the rest and it will fall into spider traps and become known eventually.

9:10 pm on Jan 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

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We are taxed and pay what we owe.

I just dont need another bot using my bandwidth, thank you very much. Then giving me zero traffic in return.

10:19 pm on Jan 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

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The article says that the IRS is not useing Xenon at this time, but that they wouldn't confirm or deny use of spiders in a similar manner.

It's a well-known fact, however, that the IRS has been working on analytic heuristical methods and even artificial intelligence for the purpose of identifying possible tax cheats.

One method those systems would use would be based upon individual profiling. For instance, it would look at your car, the neighborhood you live in and other factors to see if your reported income is inched over a threshold into an atypically low amount. This sort of profiling is already used by some degree to red-flag people for possible audits.

The IRS's apparent goal is to be able to access and process enough information to just send everyone a bill, no longer requiring that tax forms be filled out and submitted.

10:20 pm on Jan 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Let's keep our opinions about taxes out of this discussion, please, and focus on the bot ;)
10:56 pm on Jan 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

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The US GSA was crawling for a period.

As was the Home something another after 9-11.

12:35 am on Jan 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

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To start with, does anyone have an IP Range for thouse....?
3:10 pm on Jan 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Canada Aye!

[ctv.ca...]

Revenue Canada is testing a software program known as a Xenon spider that's designed to crawl the Internet searching for tax evaders, according to a report.

The department is joining four other nations in test-driving a new computer program that is designed to catch tax cheats using the Internet.