Former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) consultant Charles Littlejohn was arrested on Friday in connection with leaking thousands of tax returns, including former President Donald Trump’s, to the media.
Littlejohn now faces up to five years in federal prison.
While working for the IRS between 2018 and 2021, Littlejohn allegedly stole thousands of taxpayer information dating back 15 years.
“He thereafter disclosed the tax information associated with Public Official A to News Organization 1, and the other tax information to News Organization 2,” the documents read.
“Both News organizations published numerous articles describing the tax information they obtained from the Defendant,” it continued.
While the News Organizations are yet to be confirmed, The New York Times published its report on then-President Trump’s Tax reports on September 27, 2020.
Pro Publica also published an article on June 8, 2021, titled “The Secret IRS Files: Trove of Never-Before-Seen Records Reveal How the Wealthiest Avoid Income Tax” on June 8, 2021.
A spokesperson for ProPublica declined to comment on the report but said, “As we’ve said previously, ProPublica doesn’t know the identity of the source who provided this trove of information on the taxes paid by the wealthiest Americans.”
The New York Times also declined to comment.
As Forbes reported:
“The ProPublica story from 2021 revealed information about the income and tax numbers behind some of the nation’s wealthiest people, including billionaires like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Warren Buffett, and Michael Bloomberg, identifying several years where the ultra-wealthy didn’t pay any federal income taxes.
ProPublica has repeatedly said it didn’t know the identity of the source of the information behind the story.
The article from the Times detailing Trump’s 2016 and 2017 tax returns from the IRS leak, also revealed the ex-president paid little to no federal income taxes, which the news outlet reported was often accomplished through business losses used to absolve him.”
The charges have now put the IRS back into the spotlight, with many questioning how such a leak could occur.
IRS commissioner Danny Werfel said in a statement:
“Any disclosure of taxpayer information is unacceptable.”
“The IRS has put in place new protocols and protections that tightened security, and our aggressive work in this critical area continues in order to protect the tax and financial information of taxpayers,” he added.
Senator Mike Crapo of Idaho noted:
“While many questions remain, at the very least, IRS guardrails failed to prevent this brazen breach of taxpayer rights.”
“It goes without saying that resolving these and other ongoing security issues at the IRS, as well as identifying and making whole the individuals impacted by this breach, must be the IRS’s highest priority,” he added.
Littlejohn is charged with one count of unauthorized disclosure of tax returns and return information.
The former IRS worker also faces up to five years in prison for violating Title 26 of the United States Code, Section 7213(a)(1).