Republicans are calling for Biden administration officials to testify in Congress about the thousands of the country’s wealthiest people who had their IRS tax records leaked.
GOP Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, the ranking member on the House Oversight Committee, led a letter from his Republican colleagues addressed to Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney of New York on Wednesday that called on her to hold a hearing to understand who is responsible for the explosive leaks.
“The Committee must also determine what efforts, if any, the Administration is taking to prevent this from ever happening again,” the letter added.
The call for a hearing is another escalation in Republican efforts to investigate exactly how such a large trove of classified tax documents was able to make its way from the IRS to investigative nonprofit organization ProPublica.
The leaked documents showed that many of the wealthiest people, even those who advocate for higher taxes on the wealthy, such as liberal political donor George Soros and billionaire investor Warren Buffett, paid little to nothing in federal income taxes, though no wrongdoing was alleged.
The report was used by some Democrats and those on the Left to demand higher taxes on the wealthy and happened to be published at about the same time as President Joe Biden’s push to squeeze more revenue out of the wealthy through changes to the tax code. Biden is also aiming to increase funding to the IRS to the tune of $80 billion and give it more authority, which the administration claims would raise $700 billion over the next decade.
The leak of the tax data has imperiled the already tenuous support that some Republicans have expressed in empowering the IRS to close the tax gap. Some in the GOP have said they would not even consider increases in funding until there are assurances that IRS tax data is secure.
“Whether it is George Soros or Rupert Murdoch, every American should have confidence that their personal tax information is secure and safe from privacy violations,” the Republicans wrote in their letter to Maloney.
“Especially as the Biden Administration’s proposed budget would vastly increase the size and staffing of the IRS, we are concerned about the potential for future leaks of sensitive tax information, particularly if such leaks are politically motivated and/or targeted against those who may take unpopular positions,” they added.
The call for a hearing follows an initial letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland from Comer along with Republicans Reps. Jim Jordan from Ohio of the Judiciary Committee and Rodney Davis from Illinois of the Administration Committee. The congressmen called for a staff-level briefing in addition to access to all documents and communications regarding the Justice Department’s efforts to enforce federal tax confidentiality law.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration is leading an investigation into the IRS leak, and Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, the ranking Republican of the House Ways and Means Committee, said this week that he has been briefed on the matter by IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig.
“Leaks of tax information, particularly by government officials entrusted with caring for that sensitive information, are completely unacceptable and this Committee must conduct oversight to determine who is responsible and how to prevent something like this from ever happening again,” the Wednesday letter read.
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