WASHINGTON - The Treasury Department has asked law enforcement authorities to investigate the disclosure of tax records cited in a media report that showed that some of America's richest people paid little to no income taxes, U.S. officials said on Tuesday.
ProPublica said it obtained a vast trove of taxes on the returns of thousands of American rich people covering more than 15 years in the United States and the Internal Revenue Service. The data indicates that billionaires including Tesla founder Jeff Bezos and Amazon founder Elon Musk paid no federal income tax during some years.
Jen Psaki told the White House Press Secretary that any unlawful disclosure of confidential government information is illegal.
In an emailed statement, Treasury Department spokeswoman Lily Adams said that the matter has been referred to the FBI, federal prosecutors and two independent watchdogs of the Treasury Department, all of whom have independent authority to investigate.
The IRS, part of the Treasury Department, is the nation's tax collection agency and many tax records are considered confidential documents. IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig also confirms that an investigation is underway.
Psaki said that we take it very seriously.
ProPublica described these records as confidential and did not disclose how it obtained them.
President Joe Biden has sought tax increases on the wealthy to help fund current spending on infrastructure and social programs, including doubling the top tax rate to 39.6% from the current 37% and raising the capital gains tax rate for Americans earning $1 million annually or more.
"There is more to be done to ensure that companies who are at the highest income are paying more of their fair share", said Psaki.
Rettig addressed the matter during testimony to the Senate Finance Committee.
I'm not asked to talk about any things with respect to particular taxpayers, but am free to speak about it. I can confirm that there is an investigation in the case of the allegations that the source of the information in that article came from the Internal Revenue Service, Rettig said.