With only a few days left before the April 15 tax deadline, Americans have a new reason to feel more anxious about filing their returns.
The American Civil Liberties Union this week sounded an alarm: The IRS can obtain, without a warrant, copies of your emails and other electronic communications, such as texts, from an Internet service provider.
But there's nothing illegal - or new - about it. The 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) makes it legal for a government agency to obtain copies of your digital communications if they have been stored by a provider for more than 180 days.
A subpoena - not a court order or a warrant - from an attorney saying the information is relevant to an investigation is all that's needed to make a request. No judge is involved.
But providers have balked at such requests.
"Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Microsoft and Twitter all say they require a warrant before they will release copies of your private communications," David Jacobs, a spokesman for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, told us. [See also: Google Shows You How to Fix Hacked Websites]