The new chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee criticized the Biden administration for giving some answers after thousands of taxpayer files were leaked to an outside group.
Jason Smith, Deputy Speaker of the House, sent a letter to Russell George, Inspector General of the Treasury Department’s Tax Department, raising concerns about the leak of “classified tax information” and the lack of accountability over that leak.
The case began when the news group ProPublica reported in June 2021 that it had obtained private tax returns for thousands of Americans over 15 years.
Thanks to analysis of an unprecedented IRS data set, ProPublica reveals the 15 people who reported the highest American incomes on their taxes from 2013 to 2018, along with data for the rest of the top 400.
The analysis also shows how much they paid in federal income taxes — and shows how the US tax system, which in theory makes the highest earners pay the highest rates of income taxes, fails to do so for people at the top of the income pyramid. . The top 400-quarters pay significantly lower tax rates than just the rich; And if you include payroll taxes, a couple making $200,000 a year could end up paying higher tax rates than someone making $200 million a year.
The leak may have been politically motivated, as it was used to prove, as ProPublica put it, that “the very rich pay lower rates than only the rich”.
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The lingering questions now are who was responsible and who will be held accountable. Rep. Smith’s letter came the same week that Biden’s nominee to lead the tax-collection agency received a series of tough questions from the Senate Finance Committee as part of the confirmation process.
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In a different hearing, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told the Senate Finance Committee in June 2021 that she would look into the leak.
“[Yellen] She also indicated that she would brief Congress on this issue. Yet, nineteen months after this outrageous leak, Congress and, more importantly, the American people have no idea how this betrayal of taxpayer confidentiality came about or if anyone was ever held accountable,” Smith wrote in his letter.
Yellen said the Treasury Inspector General for the Tax Department would take over, but few answers have been released so far, hence Smith’s letter.
The letter stated: “The detailed elaboration of this review is necessary to ensure that TIGTA conducts a thorough investigation which will be completed in a timely manner….” “This leak of taxpayer information cannot be ignored, and TIGTA as well as the IRS can be confident that the Ways and Means Committee will work tirelessly to ensure accountability. Congress and the American people should not wait years for answers.”
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Meanwhile, the IRS is mired in other issues. As The Center Square previously reported, the agency faces a significant backlog of business, serious scrutiny over how it handled $80 billion delivered via the inflation cut-off law, questions about millions of documents destroyed and more.
Published with permission from The Center Square.