Blackburn, Senate Finance Republicans Call for Investigations of Alleged IRS Misconduct
May 9, 2023
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Republicans, led by U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), are calling on the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) to investigate recent allegations of unjust targeting and preferential treatment in high-profile cases by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
The senators’ request is grounded in two news reports:
- An IRS employee visited the home of journalist Matt Taibbi to discuss Taibbi’s tax returns the same day he testified before the House Judiciary Committee’s Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, raising questions about IRS procedures and operations; and
- A career IRS criminal supervisory special agent alleging preferential treatment of a high-profile, controversial, and politically connected subject, with information that would contradict sworn congressional testimony given by a senior political appointee.
In the letter, the senators note that TIGTA has the responsibility and authority to supervise the operations of the IRS, including its criminal functions and employees:
“Americans have a right to know whether the serious allegations described above are being investigated. We urge TIGTA to open investigations immediately into each of the two requests for investigation that are outlined above, and further ask TIGTA to provide Members of the Finance Committee with regularly scheduled updates and briefings on the progress of your investigations into these matters.”
Read the full letter here or below.
Dear Inspector General George:
We write to ask for an investigation into two reports involving the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
The first request for an investigation involves a report of an alleged targeting of journalist Matt Taibbi by the IRS. In brief, the concern is that on the same day that Mr. Taibbi testified on his account of government malfeasance before the House Committee on the Judiciary’s Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, an IRS employee showed up at his home unannounced to speak with him. The reported timing of an IRS agent alleged surprise, in-person visit to Mr. Taibbi’s home, together with an alleged IRS inquiry into Mr. Taibbi’s tax returns, against the backdrop and timing of Mr. Taibbi’s writings and testimony on government malfeasance, raise questions about IRS procedures and operations, particularly as they relate to these alleged facts.
The second request for an investigation stems from a report of a whistleblower raising allegations in an article entitled, “Hunter Biden Probe is Being Mishandled, IRS Supervisor Says,” published on April 19, 2023. The article states that:
A letter sent to Congress on Wednesday says a career Internal Revenue Service criminal supervisory special agent has information that would contradict sworn testimony by a “senior political appointee.” The supervisor also has information about a “failure to mitigate clear conflicts of interest in the ultimate disposition of the case,” according to the letter.
The supervisor has details that show “preferential treatment and politics improperly infecting decisions and protocols that would normally be followed by career law enforcement professionals in similar circumstances if the subject were not politically connected,” according to the letter.
The letter says the supervisor has been overseeing an “ongoing and sensitive investigation of a high-profile, controversial subject since early 2020,” which it doesn’t name. The investigation at issue is into the younger Mr. Biden, the people familiar with the matter said.
The Wall Street Journal article elaborates further that:
The Wednesday letter, from Mark Lytle, a lawyer for the IRS agent, said his client wants whistleblower protections to provide his information. It was addressed to both Republican and Democratic leaders on the Senate and House Judiciary Committees, the Senate Finance Committee, and the House Ways and Means Committee.
“Despite serious risks of retaliation, my client is offering to provide you with information necessary to exercise your constitutional oversight function and wishes to make the disclosures in a nonpartisan manner to the leadership of the relevant committees on both sides of the political aisle,” said the letter, signed by Mr. Lytle.
According to the letter, the employee previously disclosed his information internally at the IRS and to the Justice Department’s inspector general. He is restricted from sharing some of the information due to privacy laws that shield Americans’ tax return information, the letter said.
The Lytle letter also notes that the “career IRS Criminal Supervisory Special Agent” is prepared to, among other things, share testimony with Congress on a bipartisan, bicameral basis.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has responsibility and authority under the Inspector General Act of 1978 to supervise the operations of the Internal Revenue Service, including its criminal functions and employees. Americans have a right to know whether the serious allegations described above are being investigated. We urge TIGTA to open investigations immediately into each of the two requests for investigation that are outlined above, and further ask TIGTA to provide Members of the Finance Committee with regularly scheduled updates and briefings on the progress of your investigations into these matters.