Business

The IRS is investigating the disclosure of tax information for wealthy Americans

[Washington]US Internal Revenue Service Secretary Charles Rettig said federal officials are investigating the disclosure of tax information for wealthy Americans.

ProPublica, a non-profit news agency, has released details on the reported income and tax payments of some of the wealthiest Americans, such as Amazon.com. Co., Ltd.

CEO Jeff Bezos and Berkshire Hathaway Co., Ltd.

CEO Warren Buffett.

Taxpayer information is confidential and IRS employees or anyone who leaks such information may be subject to criminal penalties. Rettig told lawmakers that internal and external investigations had begun and could be prosecuted afterwards.

“We share all American concerns about the delicate, private and confidential nature of the information that the IRS receives,” he said at a Senate Finance Committee hearing scheduled prior to the disclosure. “Trust and trust in the Internal Revenue Service is like the basis for asking and demanding financial information from people.”

A ProPublica article stated that the press did not know the identity of the source and explained the information it received as IRS data for thousands of people covering more than 15 years. It’s unclear if this information (a very rare broadcast of private tax data) came directly from the IRS or if government agencies were hacked in some way. This article highlights the years when Bezos and others paid little or no federal income tax.

“It is illegal to disclose sensitive government information without permission,” said Lily Adams, a Treasury spokeswoman. She said the case was referred to the Treasury Inspector General, the IRS Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Washington State Prosecutor General.

A spokesman for the FBI and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation did not immediately comment. A spokesman for the Treasury Inspector General of the National Tax Agency said he would not take any action, affirm or deny, but take all these issues seriously.

The IRS has a system for tracking employee access to taxpayer information, and authorities have previously dismissed employees for unauthorized access. However, last year’s Inspector General’s report states that there are potential gaps in these systems.

The data in the ProPublica article, though controversial, gives specific numbers and names to well-known features of the US income tax system. dividend. They can borrow their wealth to cover their living expenses and then when they die, their valued assets are not taxed as capital gains.

The Biden administration has proposed changing its system by imposing a capital gains tax on assets valued at the time of death, and the Democratic Party pointed out Tuesday’s disclosure as evidence of their case.

“This data shows that the wealthiest people in the country who made huge profits during the pandemic are not paying a fair share,” said Ron Wyden, chairman of the Treasury Commission. Senator (D., Oregon) said

However, this disclosure could undermine support for another part of the Biden tax enforcement plan that requires banks and other financial institutions to provide the IRS with annual information on account inflows and outflows. Republicans had already been reluctant to think of it before Tuesday.

“A breach of personal privacy and confidentiality can easily occur to ordinary Americans and small businesses, which concerns me,” said Senator Steve Danes (Republican, Mont.).

Write to Richard Rubin, richard.rubin@wsj.com

Copyright © 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

The IRS is investigating the disclosure of tax information for wealthy Americans

Source link The IRS is investigating the disclosure of tax information for wealthy Americans

Back to top button