Republican Reps. Jim Jordan and Darrell Issa sent letters to Treasury Department officials Tuesday demanding answers about the IRS’s ongoing investigation into the leak of wealthy individuals’ tax information.
The letters, first obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation, were sent to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) commissioner Charles Rettig and Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George, and asked for transparency regarding the IRS’s investigation into the leak of several wealthy individuals’ private tax records to ProPublica in June.
“Because tax returns are filled with personal and sensitive information, federal law requires that tax ‘[r]eturns and return information shall be confidential,’” the lawmakers wrote. “Despite these safeguards, an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employee or employees—or someone with access to the returns—disclosed this confidential information to ProPublica in violation of the law.”
Jordan and Issa, both members of the House Judiciary Committee which is conducting its own investigation into the leaks, asked the officials to brief Congress on the status of the investigation, as well as on the procedures that were in place to safeguard taxpayer information before the leak occurred.
They also requested the IRS preserve all documents and communications related to the leak, as well as information relating to the IRS’s investigation.
The lawmakers suggested the leak may have been partisan, noting the victims were billionaires such as Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk, and referencing calls from prominent Democrats to raise taxes on the rich. They cited ProPublica’s description of the leak as coming at a “crucial moment” for efforts to address income inequality.
”This leak must be viewed in the context of certain Democrat leaders calling for higher taxes on wealthy Americans,” the lawmakers wrote. “Leaks of tax information for political purposes harm the American people’s trust in the IRS and its ability to fairly administer federal tax laws.”
The IRS has a history of targeting conservative groups, most notably applying aggressive scrutiny to organizations affiliated with the Tea Party during the Obama administration. The IRS settled with over 400 affected groups in 2017, issuing a formal apology for its behavior.
“Unfortunately, ProPublica seems to have become a venue for far-left activists at the IRS to leak confidential tax return information to advance their partisan political goals,” the lawmakers wrote.
Senate Republicans led by Mitch McConnell had urged the Department of Justice to conduct an investigation into the matter in June.
The lawmakers requested the IRS brief Congress on the investigation as soon possible, and no later than Aug. 10.
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