A man in the United States is facing charges for allegedly leaking the tax returns of a prominent government figure, widely believed to be former President Donald Trump. Charles Littlejohn, an IRS contractor, is accused of pilfering this sensitive information and disclosing it to a news organization. Furthermore, he is alleged to have stolen tax return data from “thousands” of the country’s wealthiest individuals, with the Department of Justice asserting that this data was shared with a separate media outlet.
While the court documents do not explicitly identify the government official involved, a reliable source has confirmed to CBS News, a BBC partner in the US, that it pertains to Donald Trump. The same source indicated that The New York Times received information regarding Mr. Trump’s tax returns, while ProPublica, another news organization, was furnished with data concerning other individuals. Neither of these media outlets has been charged with any wrongdoing.
The New York Times has refrained from providing comments to CBS News regarding these allegations. In contrast, ProPublica issued a statement to the outlet, stating, “We have no comment on today’s announcement from the DoJ. As we’ve said previously, ProPublica doesn’t know the identity of the source who provided this trove of information on the taxes paid by the wealthiest Americans.”
As of now, there has been no public response from Mr. Trump.
According to court documents, Charles Littlejohn was employed by an undisclosed consultancy from 2017 to 2021. This consultancy, in turn, undertook contracts from the US Department of the Treasury’s IRS, focusing on tax administration. The legal papers go on to allege that during 2018 to 2020, while Littlejohn was engaged in an IRS contract, he unlawfully obtained tax returns and return-related data, some of which spanned over 15 years.
The charge brought against Mr. Littlejohn is the unauthorized disclosure of tax returns and return-related information, carrying a potential prison sentence of up to five years if convicted. Mr. Littlejohn, a resident of Washington, DC, has yet to issue any public statements regarding the accusations.
In a 2020 article, The New York Times, presumably based on the leaked information, reported that Mr. Trump had paid a mere $750 (£580) in federal income tax in both 2016, the year of his presidential candidacy, and his inaugural year in the White House. The publication further stated that Mr. Trump had paid no federal income taxes at all in 10 out of the prior 15 years, and the disclosed records indicated “chronic losses and years of tax avoidance.”