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Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, has filed a formal lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service.
The suit alleges that the IRS violated his rights by sharing his taxpayer information without his permission. Biden claims that whistleblowers from the IRS provided both congressional testimony and media interviews that offered details of his tax returns. Taxpayer information is personal and confidential, and there are laws about not sharing it without permission from the taxpayer.
Title 26, U.S.C. § 6103 addresses the importance of protecting tax returns and related information, and that their disclosure is prohibited. The information and documents can only be examined by people who are authorized to do so, and none of that data, or the knowledge gained from it, can be shared with the public. IRS and Department of Justice Tax Division employees are held to a very high standard where this is concerned, so that breaches don’t occur.
Additionally, the IRS even has a Taxpayer Bill of Rights that spells out what is and isn’t acceptable. That helps taxpayers understand their rights and responsibilities under the law, and provides a measure of security and peace of mind. Whether Biden’s lawsuit is successful remains to be seen. Since the lawsuit is very recent, it may take some time for it to travel through the courts and be addressed. It’s also a much more high-profile case than most, based on Biden’s relationship to the president.
If a judge rules in Biden’s favor there could be significant penalties for the IRS employees who talked about his tax information to the media and in other locations. The Taxpayer Bill of Rights is very clear about the seriousness of protecting this data, as is Title 26, U.S.C. § 6103. In short, some IRS employees could be facing consequences.
However, what they disclosed, where it came from, and other factors will all come into play. It may also be some time before the case is heard, and the ruling won’t change the fact that the information is already out in the world and available through the media. Still, if IRS employees were in the wrong, Biden will likely have a case against them.
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