Updated Jan 29, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Ex-IRS contractor who leaked Trump tax records sentenced to 5 years in prison


Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event on Jan. 27 in Las Vegas. Photo: David Becker/Getty Images

The former Internal Revenue Service contractor who leaked the tax records of former President Trump and other wealthy Americans was sentenced to five years in prison Monday, multiple outlets reported.

Why it matters: The leaks offered an unprecedented glimpse of confidential IRS information and also highlighted how little the ultra-wealthy pay in taxes relative to their income.

  • They also shed new light on Trump's financial situation, after the then-president had spent years trying to block the release of his tax returns.
  • Lawyers for Charles Littlejohn said earlier this month that their client had leaked the information because he held a "deep, moral belief" that the public had the right to know how much Trump and other wealthy Americans paid in taxes, Politico reported.

The big picture: Littlejohn pleaded guilty last October to a federal charge of unauthorized disclosure of tax return and return information.

  • Ahead of Monday's sentencing, prosecutors had sought the maximum sentence of five years in prison, per NBC News.
  • U.S. District Judge Ana C. Reyes on Monday sentenced Littlejohn to five years in prison and three years supervised release, CBS News reported. He will also have to pay a $5,000 fine.
  • "What you did in targeting the sitting president of the United States was an attack on our constitutional democracy. It cannot be open season on our elected officials," Reyes said at the sentencing, per Reuters.
  • Littlejohn addressed the court Monday ahead of the sentencing, saying he had "acted out of a sincere but misguided belief that I was serving the public," NBC News reported.

State of play: Littlejohn previously admitted to being behind the leak that contributed to the NYT's bombshell report in 2020 on Trump's 2016-2017 records.

  • Littlejohn's leaks were also linked to a 2021 ProPublica report based on confidential IRS data that showed some billionaires, including Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, didn't pay federal income tax in certain years.
  • While the median American household annually paid 14% of their earnings in federal taxes in recent years, ProPublica found that the 25 richest Americans paid what amounted to a tax rate of 3.4% between 2014 to 2018.

Editor's note: This story was updated with additional details from Monday's sentencing hearing.

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