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The Biden administration's Department of Justice announced Friday charges against an Internal Revenue Service contractor, alleging that the individual stole and leaked tax return information belonging to an unnamed "high-ranking government official" and "thousands of the nation's wealthiest individuals."
A press release from the DOJ's Office of Public Affairs stated, "Charles Littlejohn, 38, of Washington, D.C., while working at the IRS as a government contractor, stole tax return information associated with a high-ranking government official (Public Official A) and disclosed it to a news organization (News Organization 1). Littlejohn also stole tax return information for thousands of the nation's wealthiest individuals, and disclosed this tax return information to another news organization (News Organization 2)."
Littlejohn was charged with only one count of unauthorized disclosure of tax returns and return information despite being accused of stealing thousands of returns. If Littlejohn is found guilty, he could face a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
The DOJ's press release noted that the IRS' internal watchdog, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, is investigating the case.
A court document revealed that Littlejohn allegedly stole the information while working at a consulting firm that served public and private clients. From 2018 to 2020, Littlejohn worked on an IRS contract, according to the document. It added that both unnamed news organizations published numerous articles disclosing the tax information allegedly provided to the outlets by Littlejohn.
In 2019, the New York Times published an article regarding Trump's tax returns after the outlet received ten years' worth of information. ProPublica released an article in 2021 concerning the tax information of some of the wealthiest people in the United States.
A spokesperson for ProPublica told CNN, "ProPublica doesn't know the identity of the source who provided this trove of information on the taxes paid by the wealthiest Americans."
IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel stated, "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," Werfel added.
The New York Times, Littlejohn, and his attorney declined to comment, the Washington Post reported.
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Candace Hathaway is a staff writer for Blaze News.