The opening lines of a Wall Street Journal editorial observed, “That didn’t take long.” We aren’t even half a year into the Biden presidency, and already have an IRS scandal. ProPublica published “The Secret IRS Files” showing how some of the wealthiest Americans avoid income tax.
It documents the years in which Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Michael Bloomberg paid no federal income taxes. It also provided an inside look at the financial lives of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, and George Soros.
What’s the legal issue? Leaking such income information is a crime. Federal tax returns are confidential. Someone inside the IRS (or associated with it) leaked this information.
The timing was not coincidental. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) opened his Financial Committee hearing a week ago quoting from this IRS data dump. The Biden administration has proposed the largest tax increase as a share of the economy since 1968.
An op-ed by Charles Cooke said, “We Can’t Trust the IRS.” That is really the conclusion we should have. Each time this happens, there’s an excuse. Last time, it was the fact that Donald Trump declined to release his tax returns. That didn’t justify breaking the law. This time, it was “the wealthy aren’t paying their fair share.”
You may think that the people being exposed deserve it. But they deserve the same rights as other citizens. And if it’s possible to obtain the tax records of influential people who have an army of lawyers, what chance do you have of keeping your financial records private?
Here’s my biggest concern with the latest IRS scandal. Only a few media outlets even considered releasing confidential tax information to be a scandal.