More than three months ago, ProPublica began publishing a series of stories based on what they have described as a “vast trove of Internal Revenue Service data on the tax returns of thousands of the nation’s wealthiest people, covering more than 15 years.” I have spoken about this apparent leak or hack of IRS data before.
During the August recess, Politico Pro’s Morning Tax, writing about ProPublica, noted that “it’s been almost two-and-a-half months since it ran its first story on that leaked tax data and, though the leak is perhaps the worst in the IRS’s history, the government has yet to say anything publicly about how it happened.”
As absurd as this statement is, it’s also accurate. The Biden administration has not said what happened regarding perhaps the worst leak or hack in the history of the IRS.
I’ve sent letters to the IRS and to the Attorney General and the FBI, who have provided an embarrassingly small amount of information in response.
The first ProPublica story was published on June 8.
On June 11, I joined Leader McConnell and Finance Committee Ranking Member Crapo on a letter to Attorney General Garland and FBI Director Wray.
Days later on June 16, I sent a letter with other Judiciary Committee members asking more detailed questions.
It took almost two months for the Department of Justice to respond to these letters by sending me two copies of the same form letter in response.
Dated August 10, one of the letters contains an apparent typo in that it purports to be in response to a letter “dated June 6, 2021.”
Given that ProPublica began publishing stories on June 8, if I was clairvoyant enough to write a letter on the leak 2 days earlier, I would already know what really happened.
The fact the department responded to two different letters with the exact same form letter, and couldn’t correctly refer to my letters, shows a lack of diligence that is not unique to this matter.
In response to a different letter I sent with Senator Crapo to Commissioner Rettig, I received a recent response that states “We do not yet have any information concerning the source of the alleged taxpayer information published by ProPublica.”
Now, the IRS Commissioner is advocating for Congress to pass expansive new reporting requirements for the IRS.
If Commissioner Rettig doesn’t even know whether the ProPublica information came from the IRS, how can he assure us the IRS can properly protect the new information he wants?
I ask unanimous consent that the responses I’ve received from the Department of Justice and the IRS be printed in the record.
I call on Attorney General Garland, FBI Director Wray and Commissioner Rettig to take the apparent leak or hack of taxpayer information seriously and cooperate with our constitutionally mandated responsibility to conduct oversight.
The protection of taxpayer information provided to the IRS is critical to the basic functioning of our government.
Determining the source of the information published by ProPublica should be a top priority for our nation’s tax enforcement agency and allegedly premier law enforcement entity.
I intend to continue working with Ranking Member Crapo and others to continue looking into this matter.
I hope that we are able to resolve how any confidential taxpayer information was obtained from the IRS, and those responsible are held to account.