On Wednesday, House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan sent a letter to Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Daniel Werfel demanding to know why journalist Matt Taibbi was visited by IRS agents the same day he testified before the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.
Jordan wrote that in response to a March 27 letter seeking information on the IRS’ visit to Taibbi’s home, documents obtained through a letter received from the agency on May 6 "raised more questions than they answer."
"The IRS asserted to the Committee that it sent a letter to Mr. Taibbi on October 24, 2019—nine days after Mr. Taibbi filed his 2018 tax return—asking Mr. Taibbi to verify his return because it met identity theft criteria and could not be processed until he confirmed," the letter stated.
It then claimed that the IRS said it sent a second letter to Taibbi on March 23, 2020. "However, according to Mr. Taibbi, neither he nor his accountant received either of these letters or any other notification that there was an issue with his 2018 tax return—that is, until the IRS conducted a field visit at Mr. Taibbi’s home three years later. The IRS also failed to produce these purported letters to the Committee."
Jordan wrote that the IRS’s documents reveal the agency opened its examination of Taibbi’s 2018 tax return on December 24, 2022, which was both Christmas Eve and a Saturday. It was also three weeks after Taibbi published the first Twitter FIles on the social media platform outlining government abuses.
This date was also "the same day that Mr. Taibbi published the ninth segment of the Twitter Files, detailing how federal government agencies 'from the State Department to the Pentagon to the CIA' coordinated to censor and coerce speech on various social media platforms," the letter explained.
"It is unclear from the documents alone why the IRS opened its examination of Mr. Taibbi’s tax return on such an unusual date or whether it coincided intentionally with Mr. Taibbi’s reporting about government censorship," Jordan wrote.
On January 27, 2023, an IRS agent was assigned to Taibbi’s case to initiate face-to-face contact.
"The IRS documents reflect that the case agent performed an extensive investigation of Mr. Taibbi, using publicly available search engines and commercial investigative software such as Anywho, Consumer Affairs, LexisNexis Accruint, and Google," read the letter.
This dossier on Taibbi reportedly contained information on him including his voter registration records, whether he possessed a hunting or fishing license, if he had a concealed weapons permit, as well as his telephone numbers. The agent had also saved Taibbi’s Wikipedia page.
"By the time the agent appeared at Mr. Taibbi’s home, it had been nearly three years since the IRS claims it last tried to contact Mr. Taibbi about his 2018 tax return. Instead of attempting to reinitiate contact with Mr. Taibbi by less intrusive means, the IRS scheduled its field visit for March 9, 2023—the very day Mr. Taibbi was to testify before Congress," Jordan wrote.
The IRS’s documents given to the committee revealed that Taibbi did not owe anything in taxes, but rather was owed a "substantial refund."
Following the visit, Taibbi resolved his tax filing on March 21, 2023, and was sent a Notice of Case Resolution on the 23rd indicating that the case had been closed.
"The IRS’s production, however, lacks any indication of the IRS’s decision-making process to open a case against Mr. Taibbi, or to conduct a field visit at his home," the letter states.
Jordan demanded that the IRS produce to the committee all documents relating to the decision to open an examination into Taibbi’s tax returns and its justification, the decision to conduct the field visit on March 9, 2023, the Twitter Files, and ones detailing IRS protocols pertaining to "the means by which agents may investigate and gather personal information on taxpayers and the limits of these means."
These items are to be handed to the committee no later than 5 pm on June 7, 2023, with Jordan requesting that the agent assigned to Taibbi’s case be made available for a transcribed interview before the committee.
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