Oct 12, 2023 - Economy

IRS contractor pleads guilty to leaking Trump's tax returns

The Internal Revenue Service building in Washington, D.C. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

An Internal Revenue Service contractor accused of leaking the tax returns of former President Trump and thousands of other wealthy Americans to news organizations pleaded guilty to a federal charge on Thursday.

Why it matters: Charles Littlejohn's unparalleled leak of confidential IRS information revived congressional debate on tax issues and income disparity and shone a light on Trump's financial situation after he fought for years in the courts to block the release of his tax returns, per the Washington Post.

The big picture: Though prosecutors did not name the news outlets or individuals affected by the leaks, 38-year-old D.C. resident Littlejohn admitted to the case judge that he was behind the leaking of the NYT's bombshell report on Trump's 2016-2017 records, NBC News notes.

  • Trump's lawyer Alina Habba told the court it's likely the NYT's revelations "cost my client thousands of votes" as it was published weeks before the 2020 presidential election, the Wall Street Journal reports.
  • The leaks were also linked to a 2021 ProPublica report based on confidential IRS data that found billionaires including Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk paid comparatively little in income taxes.

What they're saying: "By using his role as a government contractor to gain access to private tax information, steal that information, and disclose it publicly, Charles Littlejohn broke federal law and betrayed the public's trust," Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement Thursday.

What's next: Littlejohn, who pleaded guilty to unauthorized disclosure of tax return and return information, is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 29 and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Flashback: NYT's Trump tax returns exposé explodes on social media

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