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Republicans on Finance Committee call for investigation into massive, illegal IRS data breach

By on June 12, 2021 0


June 11, 2021

Republicans on the U.S. Senate Finance Committee are calling for an investigation into the apparent massive leak of more than 15 years of taxpayer-protected personal information from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to media ProPublica. In a letter to the Inspector General of the Treasury for Tax Administration (TIGTA), the senators note that the nature of the information suggests that it came directly from the IRS, constituting a serious invasion of privacy and a violation. criminal tax law. They also point out that this invasion of privacy comes at a time when the administration proposes to increase the amount of data collected by the IRS from the checking, savings and other accounts of nearly all taxpayers.

From the letter:

The description of the data by ProPublica and the nature of the information published strongly suggests that the information is from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). If this is true, it constitutes a serious breach of privacy and a criminal violation of our tax laws. It would be one of the largest and most widespread breaches in the agency’s history and would significantly damage the foundation of our tax system, including the confidence of U.S. taxpayers that the IRS will withhold their personal information. confidential.

The apparent massive leak of more than 15 years of personal information protected by taxpayer law that has found its way into ProPublica’s hands demands an immediate and vigorous investigation and prosecution of anyone who played a role in the violation of the laws protecting taxpayer information or having obtained or provided such information.

The American people deserve a thorough and independent investigation into how this information was published to understand how and why confidential information is apparently leaked or obtained from the IRS, to find those responsible, and to initiate criminal proceedings where warranted.

The letter, signed by the fourteen Republican members of the Finance Committee, can be accessed HERE or below.

Dear Inspector General George:

We ask your office to immediately investigate the recent apparent blatant leak of IRS private taxpayer information to determine its scope, any legal issues that may arise, and how the IRS is protecting personally identifiable information. against violations and improper political or other purposes.

On the morning of June 8, 2021, ProPublica published an article titled “IRS Secret Files: Never-Before-Seen Mine of Documents Reveals How Riches Avoid Income Tax.” The article states that “ProPublica has obtained a vast mine of data from the Internal Revenue Service on the tax returns of thousands of the country’s richest people, spanning more than 15 years.” The description of the data by ProPublica and the nature of the information published strongly suggests that the information is from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). If this is true, it constitutes a serious breach of privacy and a criminal violation of our tax laws. It would be one of the largest and most widespread breaches in the agency’s history and would significantly damage the foundation of our tax system, including the confidence of U.S. taxpayers that the IRS will withhold their personal information. confidential.

Unfortunately, this wouldn’t be the first time that confidential taxpayer information held by the IRS has been disclosed or misused. In 2012, ProPublica obtained confidential pending tax exemption claims originally submitted to the IRS; and, also in 2013, ProPublica obtained applications or documentation for 31 groups, some of which had not yet been approved, meaning they were not supposed to be made public. On May 14, 2013, TIGTA released a report detailing that inappropriate criteria were used to identify tax exemption requests for review. In this report, TIGTA underlined that “[e]During calendar year 2010, the IRS began using inappropriate criteria to identify organizations seeking tax-exempt status in order to examine indications of significant political intervention in the campaign.

The deliberate disclosure by IRS employees of confidential taxpayer information and the IRS’s inappropriate targeting of certain Section 501 (c) organizations less than ten years ago were unacceptable, violated the public confidence in the fairness and secrecy of the tax system and undermined the integrity of the tax administration. The apparent massive leak of more than 15 years of personal information about legally protected taxpayers that has found its way into ProPublica’s hands demands an immediate and vigorous investigation and prosecution of anyone who played a role in the violation of the laws protecting taxpayer information or in illegally obtaining or providing such information. information.

This most recent release of taxpayer data is of particular concern in light of the administration’s proposal to provide the IRS with unprecedented mandatory funding aimed in part at making the collection of additional private and personal information mandatory. of ordinary Americans through financial institutions, including detailed information about their checking and savings accounts.

The IRS’s failure to protect confidential data and what appears to be a massive IRS data breach that facilitated ProPublica’s publication of protected taxpayer information to provide politicized advocacy to target certain taxpayers is unacceptable and should be strongly condemned. The American people deserve a thorough and independent investigation into how this information was published to understand how and why confidential information is apparently leaked or obtained from the IRS, to find those responsible, and to initiate criminal proceedings when warranted. .

For these reasons, Congress needs to know that IRS systems are secure and that personal and business tax information is protected against threats, both internal and external, of violations of taxpayer privacy rights. TIGTA’s investigation and review must be thorough, including a careful examination of any porous items in the IRS that could allow leaks, unauthorized external access to personal information, or external researchers the IRS hires. for special projects and provides access to confidential taxpayer information, especially where applicable. have political agendas linked to taxation.

Congress and the American people have a right to know how and why it appears confidential information may have been obtained or disclosed from the IRS and how their information will be used and protected in the future. We ask TIGTA to provide finance committee members with regular updates and briefings on the progress of your investigation.

Truly,



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