Nine months ago it was revealed that the private tax files of “thousands” of Americans – covering a period of 15 years — had been stolen and given to a progressive news organization. The IRS and the Biden administration immediately vowed to investigate and prosecute.
Yet here we are nine months later with no answers from the government, while Democrats push for even more power for the IRS.
IRS chief Charles Rettig is testifying Thursday before the Ways and Means oversight subcommittee. Committee members must hold Rettig accountable and get detailed answers after nine months of stonewalling, as the Biden Treasury Department claims it doesn’t even know if the IRS was the source of the stolen files.
Progressive group Pro Publica described the cache as “a vast amount of information. It’s not just tax returns. It’s also things like records of stock trades, information that is sent to the IRS about financial activities.”
To pretend the source of these files is not the IRS is to pretend the thief was able to steal comprehensive tax information of thousands of the highest-earning Americans, year after year for 15 years, from dozens or hundreds of different tax accountants. Doesn’t pass the laugh test.
During the IRS Lois Lerner era, the agency stonewalled for years and repeatedly failed to notify congress of key developments in its investigation. Key evidence was allowed to be deleted and destroyed. Many hard drives of IRS employees mysteriously crashed. Preservation orders were not followed. This will happen again if Rettig and Yellen do not provide detailed answers.
Here is a video compilation of Yellen/Rettig testimony on the stolen taxpayer files. In each instance they promise to investigate. In each instance they claim not to know anything about who did or did not steal the data.
Meanwhile the Biden administration and congressional Democrats push nonstop for more IRS power and demand more personal information from Americans. The agency has proven itself unwilling or unable to safeguard taxpayer information.
Below is a timeline of testimony from IRS chief Rettig and Treasury Secretary Yellen, as well as letters from congressional Republicans to the IRS, the Attorney General, and the Treasury Inspector General, seeking answers and accountability:
June 8, 2021: When the existence of the theft was announced on June 8, IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said under oath that an investigation was already underway:
“I can confirm that there is an investigation with respect to the allegations that the source of the information in that article came from the Internal Revenue Service. Upon reviewing the article, the appropriate contacts were made as you would expect. And the investigators will investigate.” (1:08:12)
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) followed up and asked (1:09:42):
“When you said that you are investigating this ProPublica release of secret IRS files, I assume that if your investigation finds a violation of the law, you are going to see that people are prosecuted, is that right?”
June 9, 2021: Sen. Mike Crapo and Congressman Kevin Brady send a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig seeking answers.
June 11, 2021: Congressman Mike Kelly letter to IRS Commissioner Rettig
June 11, 2021: 15 Republican Senators send letter to Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, Russell George
June 11, 2021: Sens. Mitch McConnell, Chuck Grassley and Mike Crapo send letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland
June 16, 2021: Janet Yellen testimony: “Top priority.”
(1:21:38) Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.):
“Just last week the IRS had one of the most widespread breaches in the agency’s history in order to advance a political agenda. This apparent leak — a targeted leak, a targeted attack I should say — on a select few Americans undermines the confidence in the agency and goes to the heart of public trust between taxpayers and the IRS’s ability to safeguard private information. Can you tell me how the Treasury and the IRS hold individuals accountable who broke federal law by sharing confidential tax information, tax returns, and will you commit to updating me on what steps the administration has taken to ensure this doesn’t happen again, and can you maybe tell us what steps you have taken so far?”
“Yes. This was a very serious situation that I and the Treasury Department take very seriously, the protection of government data. We’ve referred this matter to the Treasury Inspector General, and to the Department of Justice. The IRS commissioner is looking into the matter, as is the Treasury’s Inspector General for Tax Administration. But we are only one week out on this. And I really want to emphasize, we do not know what happened. We don’t have any facts at this point. I promise to keep you updated on what we find. But it is absolutely top priority to safeguard taxpayer data. When we see the results of the investigations that are done, if there are actions that we need to take to shore up the protection of this information, you have my absolute word that we will do so and we will keep you and congress informed on what we are doing, and what we are finding on this.”
June 16, 2021: Seven Republican Senators send letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland
June 16, 2021: 19 Republicans in Congress send letter to Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform.
June 23, 2021: Janet Yellen testimony: “All is being done to get to the bottom of this.”
“Let me just say one final word about the IRS. Many of you have expressed concern about the recent ProPublica report. I am deeply troubled by it as well. And it’s important to stress that an unauthorized disclosure of taxpayer information is a crime and that it has been referred to the FBI, federal prosecutors, and Treasury Department oversight authorities. We don’t yet know what occurred, but all is being done to get to the bottom of this criminal activity and we will be sure to update you as we learn more.”
July 27, 2021: Congressmen Darrell Issa and Jim Jordan letter to Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration Russell George
July 29, 2021: Congressman James Comer letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig.
September 20, 2021: Congressman James Comer letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig.
September 28, 2021: Janet Yellen testimony: “It is being investigated thoroughly.”
“The ProPublica information represented an illegal revelation of taxpayer information. It’s an illegal act. And it is being investigated thoroughly by independent entities, law enforcement, and the inspector generals of Treasury and the IRS. And there really can’t be tolerance for that.”
“Just to be clear: we do not know the ProPublica information came from the IRS. That hasn’t been established.”
September 30, 2021: Janet Yellen testimony: “Looking into that.”
Rep. David Kustoff (R -Tenn):
“How did ProPublica publish and obtain the information from the IRS about taxpayer information?”
“Independent agencies and law enforcement are currently looking into that and attempting to figure out how that occurred. That is clearly a crime and an utterly unacceptable thing and it will be prosecuted when it’s understood.”
October 4, 2021: Sens. Mike Crapo and Chuck Grassley send letter to Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration Russell George.
November 30, 2021: Janet Yellen testimony: “I believe those investigations are moving forward.”
Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn):
“Secretary Yellen, I’ll turn to another topic that we’ve discussed before back in September. We talked about the leak of confidential taxpayer information to ProPublica that was done in early 2021 for political purposes. You testified then that it’s an illegal act, that it’s being investigated thoroughly, and there can’t be any tolerance for that. You and I agreed on that. So given that testimony, I want to ask you; have the leakers been identified?”
“There are independent agencies, both within Treasury, the inspector General, also the FBI and DOJ, that are conducting investigations. We’re not privy, nothing has been reported out yet from those investigations that I’m aware of, but I believe those investigations are moving forward.”
“Well, I take that as no update, but after the Lois Lerner scandal, after the scandal that occurred here in 2021 under this administration’s watch, I appreciate the fact that there’s an investigation underway, but I would say this. Until we have the results of that investigation, until we have true accountability, I cannot imagine how the Biden administration is encouraging what is in effect a ten times increase in the audit capacity of the IRS when there’s no accountability there. This is the D.C. swamp at its best.”
“We don’t know what the source of the leak of that information was, and I would say it’s premature to indicate that it came from the IRS.”
December 1, 2021: Republican Members of Senate Finance Committee send letter to IRS Commissioner Rettig