Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Tuesday called on the Department of Justice and the FBI to crackdown on the disclosure of confidential tax information to ProPublica.
Last week, ProPublica released a report on the taxes of various notable American billionaires which it said was based on information from the IRS that was provided by an anonymous source who's identity the outlet doesn’t know.
"My guess is the IRS, somebody at the IRS leaked this in order to affect the tax debate and remind people that there are some very wealthy Americans," McConnell said during an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Monday. "There are some very wealthy Americans. But it's important to remember we don't tax wealth."
He added, "Our tax returns are, by law, confidential because of just this kind of shenanigans. These people ought to, whoever did this, ought to be hunted down and thrown into jail.”
"Actual consequences. As a matter of justice, and as a practical deterrent," he said during a speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday, according to The Hill. “The federal government owes taxpayers nothing less.”
The Senate minority leader’s speech follows a letter from the ranking Republicans on the Senate Finance and Judiciary Committees calling on the DoJ and the FBI to investigate the leak and prosecute those responsible.
"Taxpayers have the right to expect that any information they provide to the IRS will not be disclosed unless authorized by the taxpayer or by law," wrote Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley and Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo, according to Fox News.
“American taxpayers are required by law to comply with invasive disclosure requirements, and they’re doing it with less and less confidence that the federal government will honor their trust," McConnell said on Tuesday.
He added that the recent history of unauthorized disclosure of tax info "tells conservatives to be especially worried."
McConnell also said that "every time a leak goes without serious investigation and criminal prosecution, basic public trust in our tax system suffers.”
In the House, the ranking Republican on the Ways and Means Committee, Texas Rep. Kevin Brady, said on Tuesday that he spoke earlier that week with the commissioner of the IRS, Charles Rettig, about the incident and that Rettig informed him that the Treasury inspector general for tax administration is currently investigating.
"I urged Commissioner Rettig to devote all possible resources to assist in the investigation, to safeguard current and past private tax returns, and to keep Congress informed in a timely way on developments in this issue including any evidence of political influence or motivations,” Brady said in a statement, according to the Hill.
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