A New York Times columnist is encouraging IRS employees to commit a felony by leaking Donald Trump’s tax returns to his newspaper.
“If you’re in IRS and have a certain president’s tax return that you’d like to leak, my address is: NYT, 620 Eighth Ave, NY NY 10018,” Nicholas Kristof wrote on Twitter on Sunday.
Kristof, a liberal who writes about global affairs, was responding to a tweet from Vox.com editor Matt Yglesias who marveled that the IRS rarely leaks tax information.
One reason for that is because doing so constitutes a felony. The unauthorized release of an individuals’ tax returns is punishable by a fine of $5,000 and up to five years in prison. Leakers would also likely face a series of professional sanctions. (RELATED: Trump Campaign: New York Times Illegal Obtained Tax Records)
Trump has refused to release his taxes, claiming that they are under audit. The Republican flirted with the idea of releasing the documents during the presidential campaign but never followed through.The Times has obtained and published some snippets of Trump’s taxes — three pages of Trump’s 1995 state tax records. Published in October, the documents showed that Trump took more than $900 million in losses that year.
The release of the records, which were sent to the paper by an anonymous tipster, set off an intense ethics and legal debate.
The Trump campaign accused The Times of illegally publishing the documents. Some pundits argued that the newspaper broke the law by publishing the leaks. Others said that The Times would be protected by the First Amendment and that federal law only deals with the release of federal tax documents, not those filed with states.
The month before the publication, Times executive editor Dean Baquet said that he would risk jail time to publish Trump’s taxes.
It is unclear whether Kristof would face other penalties for encouraging an IRS employee to break the law.