A former contractor for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has pleaded guilty to unauthorized disclosure of tax information about former President Donald Trump and thousands of wealthy individuals, in an agreement with prosecutors.
Charles Edward Littlejohn, a 38-year-old resident of Washington, D.C., was charged by the Department of Justice for stealing tax return information and providing it to two news outlets between 2018 and 2020.
During the court proceedings, U.S. District Judge Ana Reyes expressed concern over Littlejohn’s actions, which impacted Trump and numerous other individuals. She emphasized that taking the law into one’s own hands is not acceptable and that the ends do not justify the means.
Littlejohn pleaded guilty to one count of unauthorized disclosure of tax returns and return information. The offense carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, with the judge deciding the final sentence. His sentencing is scheduled for January 29.
Littlejohn’s attorney, Lisa Manning, declined to comment on the case.
The news outlets involved were not specifically named in the charges, but the description and timeframe align with reports about Trump’s tax returns in The New York Times and investigations into wealthy Americans’ taxes by ProPublica.
The New York Times’ 2020 report disclosed that Trump paid only $750 in federal income tax the year he became president and, in some years, paid no income tax at all due to significant losses. Later, six years of his tax returns were released by the House Ways and Means Committee, who were then controlled by Democrats.
In 2021, ProPublica released a trove of tax-return data revealing that the 25 wealthiest individuals pay a smaller portion of their income in taxes compared to many average workers.
Both publications have refrained from commenting on the charges, and ProPublica reporters have previously stated that they do not know the identity of the source. The revelations in these stories sparked calls for tax reform for the wealthy and inquiries into the unauthorized disclosure of tax information, which is legally protected.
The IRS has asserted that any disclosure of taxpayer information is unacceptable and has since implemented stricter security measures.