Executive summary

The IRS began issuing notices in April 2024 to taxpayers whose sensitive tax information was illegally inspected or disclosed to certain news organizations by a former IRS contractor. The letters inform victims of certain rights and provide an email address for requesting additional information.

The IRS is notifying thousands of taxpayers that their tax return records were illegally accessed or disclosed to certain media organizations.

Charles Littlejohn was an employee of a company that contracted with the IRS. The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has charged that between 2018 and 2020, Littlejohn illegally accessed tax return information of certain high-ranking government officials, wealthy individuals, and businesses. Littlejohn obtained the records by accessing an IRS database. Littlejohn subsequently disclosed portions of the illegally obtained tax return information to two media organizations, identified in news reports as being The New York Times and ProPublica. Littlejohn pled guilty to unauthorized disclosure of tax returns and return information in October 2023 and was sentenced to five years in prison in January 2024.

As required by law, the IRS began issuing letters to affected taxpayers notifying them of Littlejohn’s illegal inspection and disclosure of personal tax records. In Letter 6613-A (Letter), the IRS notifies affected taxpayers of the breach and generally advises that the taxpayer may be entitled to a private right of action pursuant to section 7431, which provides for civil claims for unauthorized disclosure of return information. The Letter advises taxpayers to consult an attorney if the taxpayer has any questions regarding the taxpayer’s remedies. The Letters do not provide any personalized detail regarding what specific return information was accessed and/or disclosed.

According to the Notice, if an affected taxpayer has questions for the IRS regarding the matter, the taxpayer should email Notification.7431@irs.gov but omit sensitive information such as employee identification numbers, business addresses, and bank information. Victims can also work with their tax advisor to contact the IRS using a Power of Attorney, Form 2848

The DOJ has also created a website directed to affected taxpayers. Questions about affected taxpayers’ rights can be directed to CRM-PIN.Victims@usdoj.gov.

Taxpayers who believe they have been impacted by this conduct should consider consulting with an attorney to discuss additional steps to protect their information and to evaluate their rights and remedies, including seeking further information from the government about what information has been exposed.

This article was written by Alina Solodchikova, Marissa Lenius, John Cardone, David McNeely and originally appeared on 2024-05-02.
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