September 24,2010

Senators Seek Review of Whether Obama Administration Officials Illegally Accessed, Disclosed Confidential Taxpayer Information

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Finance Committee, and six other committee members are asking for an inspector general review of whether Obama Administration officials illegally accessed and disclosed confidential taxpayer information. 

The inquiry comes after media reports quoted a senior Obama Administration official describing the tax structure of Koch Industries, Inc.  Taxpayer confidentiality laws are strict, in part to prevent the use of tax information for political gain.  The official appeared to indicate knowledge of Koch Industries’ tax structure beyond what is publicly available. 

Grassley, along with Sens. Jon Kyl, Jim Bunning, Pat Roberts, Michael B. Enzi, John Cornyn and John Ensign, asked the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to investigate whether Obama Administration officials inappropriately examined and disclosed confidential taxpayer information and if so, whether they violated the taxpayer confidentiality law, known as section 6103. 

“… the statement that Koch is a pass-through entity implies direct knowledge of Koch’s legal and tax status, which would appear to be a violation of section 6103,” the senators wrote.  “Alternatively, if the statement was based on speculation, it raises the question of whether the Administration speculating about any specific taxpayer’s liability is appropriate.”

The Finance Committee has exclusive Senate jurisdiction over tax policy.  The senators’ letter is available here

An article from The Wall Street Journal quoting a senior Obama Administration official describing Koch Industries’ tax structure is available here.

A transcript of a speech by President Obama in which he singles out Americans for Prosperity is available here.