An Internal Revenue Service (IRS) consultant, Charles Littlejohn, has been charged with “disclosing tax return information without authorization,” according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The indictment alleges that Littlejohn stole tax return information related to a high-ranking government official and disclosed it to a news organization. Additionally, he is accused of stealing tax return information for thousands of wealthy individuals and disclosing it to another news organization.
According to ProPublica, the details in the indictment match the reporting by The New York Times on former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and ProPublica’s reporting on the tax returns of billionaires. The DOJ statement does not explicitly mention Trump, but it aligns with The New York Times’ reporting on his taxes, which revealed that he did not pay income taxes in 10 of the past 15 years.
The charges against Littlejohn include unauthorized disclosure of tax returns and return information, carrying a maximum penalty of five years in prison if convicted. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) is investigating the case.
The second leak described in the charges is believed to refer to the trove of IRS data used by ProPublica for its “Secret IRS Files” series. The dataset contained information on thousands of wealthy Americans, and ProPublica reported numerous stories based on its analysis. However, the source of that data remains unknown.
Littlejohn had been serving as a contractor to a consulting firm that had contracts with the IRS, according to the indictment. He primarily worked on these contracts, which involved receiving returns and return information for tax administration purposes.
Former President Trump criticized the news media for publishing his tax returns, claiming that the information was obtained illegally and with bad intent. He argued that he had paid taxes but was entitled to depreciation and tax credits.
– U.S. Department of Justice
– The New York Times