Hunter Biden sues US tax agency for unlawful disclosure of tax returns

Hunter Biden sued the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on Monday for unlawful disclosure of his tax information and for related violations of the Privacy Act.

Biden’s complaint mentioned two IRS agents by name: Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler. In June, the House Committee on Ways and Means voted to release transcripts of interviews with Shapley and Ziegler. This committee concluded from the interviews that the DOJ interfered with the IRS investigation into Hunter Biden and delayed it so it would reach the statute of limitations. Shapley testified again in July before the House Oversight Committee about his investigation into Hunter Biden. Ziegler testified under the alias ‘Whistleblower X.’

Particularly at issue were Ziegler’s interview with CNN and Shapley’s interview with Fox News. Biden’s complaint alleges Ziegler told the Oversight Committee that he recommended misdemeanor charges for Biden in 2017 and a day later told CNN he recommended “felony and misdemeanor charges” for Biden in 2017, contradicting his testimony to the Oversight Committee. Ziegler discussed that he recommended charging Biden with both evasion of income tax and failure to timely file and pay taxes. Shapley allegedly asserted to Fox News that Biden had a tax deficiency from 2014 to 2019.

The complaint alleges violations of 26 U.S.C. 6103, which prohibits making any person aware of any individual’s tax information in any manner, with exceptions for disclosures made to certain Congressional committees. The complaint alleges that the public statements by Shapley and Ziegler, especially interviews with the media, fell “well outside the bounds of the whistleblower protections found in [the Internal Revenue Code].”

The Biden family has recently been subject to increasing political scrutiny. Despite allegations by whistleblowers that Hunter Biden was given preferential tax treatment, Hunter was charged with failure to pay taxes and firearms offenses in June, which he pleaded not guilty to. He was also indicted on federal firearms charges in September. The House of Representatives is currently conducting an impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden.