(JustPatriots.com)- Three leading Republican senators are demanding an investigation into how tax information for some of the wealthiest taxpayers in America was released to the public.
On Monday, Senators Chuck Grassley and Mike Crapo were joined by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in demanding a full investigation be conducted by the FBI and the Department of Justice. They also say those who were responsible for leaking the information be prosecuted and “punished to the furthest extent the law permits.”
The uproar started when ProPublica released a report that gave detailed information on the tax records of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
Their report also said there was a low “true tax rate” that was paid by the wealthiest Americans. It gave examples with Buffett at 0.1%, Musk at 3.27% and Bezos at 0.98%.
The ProPublica report cited “an anonymous source who provided us with large amounts of information on the ultrawealthy, everything from the taxes they paid to the income they reported to the profits from their stock trades.”
The media outlet wouldn’t reveal the source, only saying it didn’t solicit the information, receiving it from the source “in raw form.”
That led the three Republican senators to send a letter this week to Christopher Wray, the director of the FBI, and Merrick Garland, the Attorney General, demanding the investigation. The letter read:
“Paying one’s taxes is a civic duty, and that duty requires taxpayers to disclose to the IRS deeply personal financial information,” which includes “where they work or what they do to earn their living, how much money they make, how much they spent on health care and child care, the size and contents of their retirement funds, the property they own, the charities to which they donated, and the persons to whom they are indebted.
“In fact, failing to disclose all of the information demanded by the IRS can land a taxpayer in jail,” which cites the “fundamental, baseline rule of confidentiality for the information that Americans are forced to disclose to the IRS.
“Taxpayers have the right to expect that any information they provide to the IRS will not be disclosed unless authorized by the taxpayer or by law.”
According to the law, any “unauthorized disclosure” of information on someone’s tax returns can be punishable by up to five years in prison along with a $5,000 fine. It’s also a felony to publish information on tax returns that were provided to a media outlet by someone else.
This puts not only the anonymous source in legal jeopardy, but also the decision-makers at ProPublica, depending on the outcome of the investigation.
The Republican senators also questioned the “uncanny” timing of the release of the report. Only hours after ProPublica published the report, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing to discuss the 2022 IRS budget put forth by President Joe Biden.
Included in that budget was “significant increases in funding for enforcement and proposals to reform the tax system.”
So, it’s very possible that information was leaked on purpose, then published in advance of the hearing to engender public support for Biden’s proposal.