Katie Kerekes, FISM News
Nineteen months after the confidential tax filings of American citizens were leaked, the House Committee on Ways and Means is seeking answers.
In a letter to the Inspector General for Tax Administration, committee chairman Jason Smith (R-MO) relays his “expectations” regarding the “egregious and unprecedented” leak of this tax information, a duty which he affirms the IRS is tasked with keeping “confidential and secure.”
“U.S. Department of the Treasury Secretary Yellen stated at the time that this was a ‘very serious situation’ and that the issue was referred to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). She also indicated that she would keep Congress updated on the matter. Yet, nineteen months after the outrageous leak, Congress and, more importantly, the American people have no idea how this betrayal of taxpayer confidentiality happened or whether anyone has been held accountable,” Smith writes.
Originally published by media outlet ProPublica, the leak was revealed to have compromised the confidentiality of at least the top 400 individuals who reported the “most U.S. income on their taxes from 2013 to 2018.” The implications of such a leak raise serious concerns of the legitimacy of the IRS, amid the controversial addition of 87,000 new agents to its staff, a move which GOP leaders warned would weaponize the bureau against middle-class Americans.
“A detailed status of this review is necessary to ensure TIGTA is conducting a comprehensive investigation that will be completed in a timely manner,” Smith adds.
Within the confines of the law, Smith states that the matter must be addressed publicly and cannot be ignored. He promises that the committee will “work tirelessly to ensure accountability,” for the American people.
Smith’s letter also demands that the TIGTA will conduct a “comprehensive and timely investigation, produce a report with the findings and recommendations, [and] provide [Smith] a full copy of the report,” all while publicizing as much of the report as possible.
“Until an investigation and report are complete, I request that TIGTA provide designated members of my staff with regular updates about the status of the investigation,” he concludes.
The IRS has been under constant fire from conservatives as consistent reports of seemingly nefarious actions have continued to make publication.
Last year alone, the tax-collecting service was reported to have stockpiled $725,000 in ammunition and posted a job listing that required prospective candidates to “be willing to use deadly force.”