Critics say tax code unduly protects IRS leaker

We haven't talked too much about the hot water the Internal Revenue Service found itself stewing in this year. Back in February, it was the Taxpayer Advocate Service who charged that the IRS adopted a snail's-pace approach in fixing issues for taxpayers when it discovered hundreds of thousands of social security numbers had been stolen. In May, there was the news that the IRS had put conservative-leaning groups seeking tax-exempt status through undue scrutiny.  

Since that latter disclosure, the House Ways and Means Committee has been investigating the targeting practices, including one instance in which a confidential list of donors to the National Organization for Marriage got leaked to a competing organization. That subsequently led to some news stories revealing that Mitt Romney had given money to NOM.

Now comes word that the IRS employee who leaked that information has been identified, but congressional investigators say they are blocked by law from releasing any information about the person. 

They can't talk about what he or she might have done; whether he or she faced disciplined; or whether he or she even still works for the IRS. That's because the same federal tax code against disclosing taxpayer information that the person is alleged to have violated in leaking the NOM list also applies to that person.

The paradoxical situation in which law designed to protect taxpayers in the midst of IRS scrutiny is now being used to shield an alleged felon is clearly frustrating to members of the congressional committee and to NOM.

Officials with NOM are calling for the Department of Justice to actively prosecute the IRS leaker and others who may have participated in the dissemination of the donor list to the public. They say that's the only way a hole can be punched in what they see as the unwarranted protection now offered by the tax code.

Source:, "Investigation IDs IRS Leaker," Eliana Johnson, Oct. 30, 2013 

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