A consultant working for the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been indicted for allegedly stealing and leaking the tax returns of wealthy Americans, including former President Donald Trump. Charles Littlejohn, a 38-year-old IRS contractor in Washington, has been charged with unauthorized disclosure of a tax return and could face up to five years in prison if convicted, according to the US Department of Justice (DOJ).
According to the indictment, Littlejohn unlawfully obtained the tax return information of a high-ranking government official referred to as “Public Official A.” Although the court documents did not identify the official by name, CNN and other media outlets reported that Public Official A was Donald Trump, citing an unidentified source familiar with the case.
The tax returns allegedly obtained by Littlejohn were leaked to media outlets, including The New York Times and ProPublica. Prosecutors claim that these leaks led to the publication of numerous articles based on the stolen filings. Neither The New York Times nor ProPublica have been accused of wrongdoing by the DOJ. A spokesperson for ProPublica stated that the outlet does not know the identity of the source who provided the tax information.
This incident highlights the ongoing controversy surrounding Donald Trump’s tax returns. The New York Times had previously obtained decades of Trump’s tax returns and published multiple stories based on those documents in 2020 and 2021. Trump had long avoided publicly releasing his tax returns, citing an ongoing audit by the IRS.
When some of Trump’s tax records were released by congressional Democrats in late 2021, Trump claimed that the filings proved his success as a real estate developer. He stated that his tax returns demonstrated how he used tax depreciation and deductions to create jobs and successful enterprises.
Interestingly, Trump filed a lawsuit against his niece, Mary Trump, in September 2021, accusing her of orchestrating an “insidious plot” to obtain and release his tax returns. Trump alleged that Mary leaked his tax records to generate publicity for her book about the Trump family’s real estate empire.
This recent development involving the theft and disclosure of wealthy Americans’ tax returns raises concerns about the security and privacy of sensitive financial information. The DOJ’s indictment of Charles Littlejohn serves as a warning to individuals who unlawfully access and disseminate confidential tax filing information. The case also highlights the importance of protecting taxpayer data and enforcing strict penalties against those who violate these protections.
As the legal proceedings unfold, it will be interesting to see how this case affects the broader discussion surrounding the transparency of tax returns for high-profile individuals and the legal and ethical boundaries associated with their disclosure.