Republican lawmakers are calling for answers about how troves of IRS tax documents tied to the wealthiest people in the world ended up getting leaked to the media.
Rep. Kevin Brady, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, along with Senate Finance Committee ranking member Sen. Mike Crapo on Wednesday evening, demanded answers from IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig about the “egregious and illegal” release of tax returns to ProPublica.
“Anyone accessing or releasing confidential personal tax information from the IRS without necessary approvals faces severe penalties and must be prosecuted,” they wrote. “Violating confidentiality, as seems to be the case with leaks to ProPublica or its sources, does great damage to taxpayers’ confidence in the IRS and the tax system.”
Rettig previously said the matter was referred to the correct channels, noting the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration would lead such an investigation. A TIGTA spokesperson would neither confirm nor deny the existence of the investigation when contacted by the Washington Examiner, although the spokesperson said TIGTA “takes all such allegations seriously and takes action as appropriate.”
BILLIONAIRES CALLING FOR HIGHER TAXES ON WEALTHY PAID LITTLE OR NO INCOME TAX, LEAK REVEALS
In the letter, the lawmakers asked Rettig when the IRS became aware of the alleged leak to ProPublica, if the IRS has confirmed the data originated from the IRS, if investigations underway are insulated from political influence, and if there was confirmation that TIGTA or the Justice Department have opened investigations.
Similarly, five other GOP senators, including Mike Lee of Utah and Ted Cruz of Texas, sent letters to the acting Treasury Inspector General and the Inspector General for Tax Administration to request a prompt investigation on Thursday.
“Regrettably, it appears personnel with access to American’s personal and confidential information are again misusing protected information for political reasons,” the senators wrote. “Treasury and the IRS must hold accountable any and all individuals who broke federal law by inappropriately sharing the confidential tax information and tax returns of multiple Americans.”
The leak comes as the Biden administration seeks to hike taxes on the wealthy. His plan includes raising the top individual income tax rate to 39.6% and taxing capital gains for households making more than $1 million as ordinary income.
It is unclear if the FBI is investigating the incident. An FBI spokesperson referred the Washington Examiner back to the IRS when contacted about the leak.