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Feds looking into release of wealthy Americans' tax info

Feds looking into release of wealthy Americans' tax info
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Federal officials are looking into the release of tax information for wealthy Americans, IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said Tuesday, after a report said that a number of wealthy individuals paid no federal income taxes in certain years.

Rettig said at a Senate Finance Committee hearing that officials are looking into the ProPublica  report, which cited information the outlet said was obtained from an anonymous source. The agency head said he understands the concerns about such information being leaked.

The IRS chief said there is an investigation "with respect to the allegations that the source of the information in that article came from the Internal Revenue Service."

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A Treasury Department spokeswoman separately said in a statement that "the unauthorized disclosure of confidential government information is illegal" and is being referred to multiple federal agencies for investigation.

"The matter is being referred to the Office of the Inspector General, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, all of whom have independent authority to investigate," Treasury Department spokeswoman Lily Adams said.

The IRS has systems where it tracks employees who obtain access to taxpayers' information and has fired workers before for having unauthorized access, The Wall Street Journal noted.

Rettig told lawmakers at Tuesday's hearing that employees and others who release such information to the public will face criminal penalties for their actions. 

The ProPublica report included details on some U.S. billionaires who paid no federal income tax at some point during a 15-year-span, including Amazon founder Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosOn The Money: House Democrats line up .5T in spending without budget | GOP takes aim at IRS | House Democrat mulls wealth tax What will Elon Musk and Richard Branson do about Jeff Bezos flying into space? Republicans open new line of attack on IRS MORE, Tesla founder Elon MuskElon Reeve MuskOn The Money: House Democrats line up .5T in spending without budget | GOP takes aim at IRS | House Democrat mulls wealth tax What will Elon Musk and Richard Branson do about Jeff Bezos flying into space? Republicans open new line of attack on IRS MORE, former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergWhat the Democrats should be doing to reach true bipartisanship 5 former Treasury secretaries back Biden's plan to increase tax enforcement on wealthy On The Money: Biden ends infrastructure talks with Capito, pivots to bipartisan group | Some US billionaires had years where they paid no taxes: report | IRS to investigate leak MORE and investor George Soros.

President BidenJoe BidenFormer Rep. Rohrabacher says he took part in Jan. 6 march to Capitol but did not storm building Saudis picked up drugs in Cairo used to kill Khashoggi: report Biden looking to build momentum for Putin meeting MORE and other Democratic lawmakers have been pushing for higher tax rates for America’s wealthy as part of Biden’s American Families Plan.