The US Department of Justice announced that a former employee of the US Tax Administration was sentenced, on Monday, to five years in prison for leaking the tax returns of a very senior official to the media in 2020.
In its press release, the ministry did not mention the name of former President Donald Trump or the media concerned.
But the facts and dates are consistent with the New York Times' September 2020 publication of the then president's tax returns, and then with those broadcast by investigative media outlet ProPublica in 2021 for a series of documents about tax evasion practiced by billionaires.
Charles Littlejohn, 38, pleaded guilty in October 2023 to unauthorized disclosure of tax returns. He was sentenced to the maximum penalty.
“This conviction should serve as a warning to anyone thinking of emulating Mr. Littlejohn,” IRS Inspector General Heather Hill commented in the news release.
She stressed that the Tax Inspectorate “relentlessly investigates people who illegally consult and disclose information about taxpayers, regardless of their motives.”
Breaking with a long tradition, Donald Trump has always refused to publish his tax returns.
A September 2020 New York Times investigation alleged that he paid just $750 in federal taxes in 2016 and 2017, and none in 10 of the past 15 years, in part because of his companies' large loss filings.
Furthermore, a judge in the Commercial Division of the New York State Supreme Court on January 12 ordered him to pay the New York Times and reporters $392,638 in daily court costs, after the charges against them were dismissed.
Their investigation, published in 2018 and awarded the prestigious Pulitzer Prize in 2019, told how the self-styled former promoter built his fortune. She confirmed that Donald Trump actually received from his father, over a period of several years, the equivalent of today's $413 million that could have been partially transferred through a shell company, allowing them to evade taxes.