♦ President Obama has signed an extension of the Patriot Act, that authorizes three major provisions for four more years. The extensions will allow law enforcement to conduct roving wiretaps on terrorism suspects, launch investigations of “lone wolf” terrorists not tied to any organization, and search suspects’ business transactions. The bill was held up until the last minute by Rep. Rand Paul (R-KY) who attempted to add an amendment that would have prevented the government from obtaining information on firearms purchases. The amendment was rejected by the Senate.
♦ The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled 5-3 that an Arizona law imposing fines on businesses that knowingly hire an illegal immigrant does not violate federal law. Business owners in the state filed the lawsuit (Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting) claiming that it was preempted by a federal statue, the Immigration Reform and Control Act. The federal law prohibits the hiring of illegal immigrants and imposes fines, but also prevents states from imposing additional sanctions on those who violate the law. The federal law makes exceptions for fees gathered in “licensing and similar laws.” The Court ruled that Arizona’s law, which gathers fines in excess of those imposed by the federal government for the same infraction, does fall within the licensing exception.
♦ In an report to Congress, the IRS reveals several steps it takes to resolve, detect, and prevent identity theft. More than 245,000 taxpayers were victimized last year when identity thieves either stole Social Security numbers and filed returns--and pocketing the refunds--before the taxpayer filed a legitimate return or obtained jobs using stolen identities causing the IRS to reject the returns of legitimate taxpayers for inaccurate income reporting. To help prevent identity theft, the IRS tags the accounts of victimized taxpayers and then individually screens the tax returns filed in the names of known refund and employment fraud victims. The IRS also provides identity theft victims with a personal identification number to help identify legitimate returns.