IRS asks watchdog to probe security after Trump tax reports

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The Internal Revenue Service has asked a watchdog to investigate the tax system’s security after the New York Times disclosed that its reporters had reviewed more than two decades of President Donald Trump’s tax information.

IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig asked the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to look at whether the agency’s system to protect private taxpayer data is secure, according to a statement released Tuesday. After the New York Times reported Sunday on Trump’s taxes, the agency said it confirmed the integrity of its processes and procedures and has asked the watchdog to check its work.

“The IRS has extensive measures in place that monitor and prevent unauthorized access to and disclosure of all taxpayers’ return information and there are serious consequences, including criminal sanctions, for even attempting such access,” the agency said in the statement, which didn’t directly cite the news organization’s reporting.

IRS headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

The agency also said it has additional safeguards in place to protect taxpayer information that “warrants heightened protective measures.”

It’s illegal for federal employees to release private tax information and disclosures of the data can carry a penalty of as long as five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.The New York Times said it obtained the data from someone who had legal access to the information.

Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, on Monday called for an investigation into the source of the tax documents and for the government to prosecute the individual if laws were broken.

Brady, along with the other Republican members on the committee, sent letters to Attorney General William Barr and the IRS’s Rettig on Tuesday asking both men to open investigations into the disclosure of Trump’s tax information.

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