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Feds looking into release of wealthy Americans’ tax info

Federal officials are looking into the release of tax information for wealthy Americans, IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said Tuesday, after a report said that a number of wealthy individuals paid no federal income taxes in certain years.

Rettig said at a Senate Finance Committee hearing that officials are looking into the ProPublica  report, which cited information the outlet said was obtained from an anonymous source. The agency head said he understands the concerns about such information being leaked.

The IRS chief said there is an investigation “with respect to the allegations that the source of the information in that article came from the Internal Revenue Service.”

A Treasury Department spokeswoman separately said in a statement that “the unauthorized disclosure of confidential government information is illegal” and is being referred to multiple federal agencies for investigation.

“The matter is being referred to the Office of the Inspector General, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, all of whom have independent authority to investigate,” Treasury Department spokeswoman Lily Adams said.

The IRS has systems where it tracks employees who obtain access to taxpayers’ information and has fired workers before for having unauthorized access, The Wall Street Journal noted.

Rettig told lawmakers at Tuesday’s hearing that employees and others who release such information to the public will face criminal penalties for their actions. 

The ProPublica report included details on some U.S. billionaires who paid no federal income tax at some point during a 15-year-span, including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Tesla founder Elon Musk, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and investor George Soros.

President Biden and other Democratic lawmakers have been pushing for higher tax rates for America’s wealthy as part of Biden’s American Families Plan.

Tags Elon Musk Internal Revenue Service Jeff Bezos Joe Biden Michael Bloomberg taxes

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File - A Chevrolet Bolt is displayed at the Philadelphia Auto Show, Jan. 27, 2023, in Philadelphia. Electric vehicles are far less reliable than gasoline-powered cars, trucks and SUVs, mainly because most automakers are still learning how to build a completely new power system, according to this year's auto reliability survey by Consumer Reports.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
File - A Chevrolet Bolt is displayed at the Philadelphia Auto Show, Jan. 27, 2023, in Philadelphia. Electric vehicles are far less reliable than gasoline-powered cars, trucks and SUVs, mainly because most automakers are still learning how to build a completely new power system, according to this year's auto reliability survey by Consumer Reports.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

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