WASHINGTON — Department of Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George said Tuesday that disclosures of tax information by the IRS to the liberal publication Pro Publica “could have been” illegal.
Questioned by Sen. John Thune at a Senate Finance Committee hearing, George said that such a disclosure “could be a violation of the law,” but was not certain whether it was “administrative or criminal.”
Asked specifically if the disclosures to Pro Publica were illegal, he said “it could have been.”
Later in the hearing, George added that under the Restructuring and Reform Act, there are considered to be “10 deadly sins” — one of which is the “revealing of tax information willfully to harm a taxpayer.”
He noted, however, that such behavior does not have “criminal penalties associated with it,” and that punishment would be “removal from the position.”