Attorney General Garland Says Investigating How ProPublica Obtained Billionaire Tax Data Is 'At The Top Of My List'
On today's installment of our government undoubtedly having their priorities perfectly in check, newly-minted Attorney General Merrick Garland promised legislators that investigating the source of the alleged billionaire income tax data included in ProPublica's explosive report earlier this week stands firmly at the top of his agenda.
“I promise you, it will be at the top of my list,” the former Supreme Court nominee told Sen. Susan Collins, during a Wednesday Senate Appropriations Committee budget hearing, per CNBC. Although the shocking ProPublica article, likely to be the first in a series, details how billionaires including Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Michael Bloomberg, and George Soros allegedly used legal loopholes to pay next to nothing in personal income taxes, Garland is seemingly more concerned with how, exactly, the outlet obtained the data than why the ultra-wealthy allegedly aren't paying their fair share.
“Senator, I take this as seriously as you do. I very well remember what President Nixon did in the Watergate period — the creation of enemies lists and the punishment of people through reviewing their tax returns,” Garland explained. “This is an extremely serious matter. People are entitled, obviously, to great privacy with respect to their tax returns.”
Despite the AG's evident passion on maintaining the sanctity of the rich's tax returns, it seems officials are already on the case – namely IRS Commissioner, Charles Rettig. “He said that their inspectors were working on it, and I’m sure that that means it will be referred to the Justice Department,” Garland explained. “This was on my list of things to raise after I finished preparing for this hearing.” Mr. Garland, if you're reading this, I know I may be a constant source of embarrassment for our mutual alma mater – Niles West High School – but you're really giving me a run for my money with this nonsense.
The report, which aims to dispel the long-running myth "that everyone pays their fair share and the richest Americans pay the most," claims that through a series of legal loopholes – namely the fact that intangible assets, like stock earnings and increases in property value, are not taxable – some of America's richest business people have been paying much less than what some say they should to Uncle Sam. While ProPublica has stayed tight-lipped on how, exactly, they obtained these documents illustrating this phenomenon, which they claimed they received in “raw form, with no conditions or conclusions," the information included seemingly passed a reportedly rigorous fact-checking process. "In every instance we were able to check — involving tax filings by more than 50 separate people — the details provided to ProPublica matched the information from other sources," they explained.
That said, as tax information is usually meant to stay confidential, the individuals who provided the documents to the news outlet could face “criminal liability,” CNBC noted.
So remember, folks -- Evading taxes through legal loopholes? Right on! Leaking tax information allegedly depicting billionaires doing allegedly shady things? Shame on you!