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LETTER: Rep. Kelly Demands Answers on Breach of Taxpayer’s Personal Finances

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Top Republican on the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) wrote a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig asking for answers on the breach of sensitive taxpayer information leaked to ProPublica, and what the IRS is doing to prevent further release of confidential information.

BACKRGROUND:

  • Ways and Means Republican Leader Kevin Brady (R-TX) received a briefing on Monday from Commissioner Rettig, where Rep. Brady renewed his call for an “…aggressive investigation of this astonishing breach of trust to protect Americans’ personal finances from prying, political eyes.”
  • On June 8, 2021, ProPublica detailed income tax information to advance Democrats’ efforts to supercharge the IRS and turn your local bank into a tax auditor.
  • On June 9, 2021, Rep. Brady and Senate Finance Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-ID) wrote to Commissioner Rettig demanding answers on the breach.
  • On Thursday, June 17 at 10:00 a.m., Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, whose agency oversees the IRS, will testify before the House Ways and Means Committee.

Full text of the letter can be found HERE and below.

Dear Commissioner Rettig:

I write to express deep concern with the illegal breach of taxpayer privacy stemming from the confidential taxpayer information that was leaked to the media outlet, ProPublica, and subsequently made public. The series of articles published by ProPublica on June 8, 2021 claim that this “vast trove” of tax data came from the Internal Revenue Services (IRS).  Based on ProPublica’s description of the data, it does in fact appear to have come from within the IRS.

Even more concerning, it appears that ProPublica intends to continue publishing sensitive, private taxpayer information over the coming months.  As you know, there are criminal penalties for any unauthorized person accessing or releasing confidential tax information. I would like to know what steps the IRS is taking to make sure more private tax data is not released. Therefore, I ask that you provide answers to the following questions:

  1. Has the IRS asked ProPublica to stop any further release of confidential taxpayer information?
  2. Is the IRS aware of the Department of Justice taking legal action to stop any further release of confidential taxpayer information and has the IRS asked the Department of Justice to do so?
  3. Is the IRS aware of any efforts made by either the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration or the Treasury Inspector General to stop any further release of confidential taxpayer information?

I ask that you provide answers to these questions either in writing or in a detailed briefing. Given the seriousness of these issues, I ask that you provide a response by June 17, 2021.

Lastly, based on your testimony before the Senate Finance Committee on June 8, 2021, there are several ongoing investigations into the source of the leaked “trove” of IRS data. I would like to be informed of the results of those investigations as well as regular updates on their progress and findings.  Thank you for your time and attention to this serious matter.

Sincerely,

Mike Kelly
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Oversight
Committee on Ways and Means

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