Belgian Tax Watchdogs Tracking Facebook, Netlog Updates

Not entirely unexpected, but still weird to see it confirmed and acknowledged: the federal tax administration in Belgium, my home country, is keeping tabs on citizens (article in Dutch) via their Facebook and Netlog profiles and their activities on eBay and other social networking sites.

Accountants are quick to point out the watchdogs can’t actually use any of the public status updates, photos and videos from users as proof in case of a dispute, but apparently your lifestyle as you depict it online can prompt an investigation when it doesn’t seem to add up to what your official income is.

The local version of the IRS, the BBI, has already admitted that it actively tracks activity from citizens online to sniff out tax avoiders. To quote director Karel Anthonissen: “It’s technically possible, it’s legal, and it’s happening.”

Just in case they read blogs too: I’m getting paid to write this article and I will make sure to report the income, mr. Anthonissen! Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to jump in my Maserati and drive to our second house on the coast.