In a letter to IRS Director Daniel Werfel Wednesday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) revealed that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) opened a case targeting independent journalist Matt Taibbi on Christmas Eve 2022, coinciding with Taibbi’s Twitter Files reporting on the intelligence community’s collusion with multiple tech platforms. The IRS, according to recently obtained documents, then produced a dossier on Taibbi that included information such as his voter registration records, whether he possessed a hunting or fishing license, and whether he had a concealed weapons permit.
The IRS opened a case on me on a Saturday, Christmas Eve 2022, which just happened to coincide with a major Twitter Files report on FBI/intelligence community ties to tech platforms.
This is revealed in a new letter to the IRS Commissioner by House Judiciary Chair @Jim_Jordan: pic.twitter.com/WnbouNJMdQ
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) May 24, 2023
The “case” has since been resolved, and the documents confirm that not only did Taibbi not owe the IRS any back taxes, the IRS owed him a “substantial refund.”
The House Judiciary Committee has been investigating the circumstances surrounding the IRS’s visit to Taibbi’s house on March 9, 2023, the same day he testified before the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.
The IRS on May 6 produced some documents responsive to the Committee’s March 27 request for information regarding an IRS agent’s suspiciously timed visit to Taibbi’s home. These documents “raise more questions than they answer,” Jordan wrote in his letter to Werfel.
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 IRS alleged that it sent a second letter to Mr. 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’s letter notes that not only did the IRS open its examination of Taibbi’s 2018 tax return on December 24, 2022—Christmas Eve and a Saturday—”but it also happened to be three weeks after he published the first Twitter Files detailing government abuses.”
Moreover, it was the same day that Taibbi published the ninth installment 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.
“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.
A month later, on January 27, 2023, the IRS assigned an agent to Mr. 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.
The IRS’s dossier about Mr. Taibbi included information such as Mr. Taibbi’s voter registration records, whether he possessed a hunting or fishing license, whether he had a concealed weapons permit, and his telephone numbers. The agent also examined and saved Mr. Taibbi’s Wikipedia page, which contained details about Mr. Taibbi’s work on the Twitter Files. 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.
The IRS’s production of documents confirmed that Taibbi did not owe the IRS anything. “Rather, the IRS owed Mr. Taibbi a substantial refund,” Jordan wrote.
After the IRS’s field visit, Mr. Taibbi promptly resolved his 2018 tax filing on March 21, 2023. On March 23, 2023, the IRS sent Mr. Taibbi a Notice of Case Resolution, informing Mr. Taibbi that his case had been closed and that no taxes or tax returns were due. 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.
Independent journalist, Michael Shellenberger, who has worked with Taibbi on the Twitter Files reports, registered his disgust with the IRS on Twitter: “Appalling and terrifying,” he wrote in response to the latest revelations.
The Judiciary Committee is requesting that the IRS provide documents and information regarding the decisions to open the Taibbi investigation and the visit to his home, as well as all documents related to the Twitter Files, and information regarding IRS protocols on its investigations of taxpayers.
“The circumstances of the IRS’s visit to Mr. Taibbi’s home as he was testifying before Congress about government abuse and censorship raise troubling questions that demand additional information,” Jordan wrote.
The chairman pointed out that it has been ten years, to the month, since the Obama-era IRS targeting scandal rocked the political world. At that time, then-Director of the IRS Exempt Organizations division Lois Lerner was forced to admit that the IRS had been singling out tea party organizations and other conservative groups to audit them and deny them tax-exempt status, preventing them from being able to organize during the 2012 presidential election.