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Hunter Biden Sues IRS Over Whistle-Blowers’ Disclosure Of His Tax Information

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Updated Sep 18, 2023, 11:32am EDT


President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden sued the Internal Revenue Service on Monday, alleging agents unlawfully disclosed his tax information when giving interviews to the media about the ongoing investigation into him, as Biden faces expected charges over his alleged tax crimes.

Key Facts

Biden sued the IRS for allegedly violating his rights under 26 U.S.C. § 6103, also known as the “Taxpayer Bill of Rights,” which requires that taxpayers’ tax returns and information about their returns be kept confidential.

The president’s son alleges IRS agents Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler and their attorneys violated Biden’s rights as a taxpayer by giving interviews to the media that included confidential information about his taxes, including details about deductions and his tax liability that “could only be known to them based on a review of the physical tax returns themselves.”

The lawsuit also alleges Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.), who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, unlawfully disclosed information about Biden’s taxes following closed-door testimony to the committee.

Shapley and Ziegler—who were not named as defendants in the lawsuit, only the IRS—have alleged the DOJ gave preferential treatment to Biden in its investigation.

Shapley claimed U.S. attorney David Weiss, who is overseeing the investigation into Biden, said at an October 2022 meeting with law enforcement and the IRS that he wasn’t the “deciding person” in the investigation and couldn’t bring charges in other jurisdictions outside of Delaware, contradicting U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland (Weiss and another FBI agent have disputed those claims.)

The IRS declined to comment on the lawsuit to Forbes.

Big Number

$1,000. That’s how much the lawsuit asks the IRS to pay per unauthorized disclosure of Biden’s tax information, along with a declaration that the IRS unlawfully disclosed his information and ordering the IRS to adopt a data security plan.

What To Watch For

Weiss may file new charges against Biden over his alleged tax crimes, potentially in California, the Washington Post notes, after the president’s son has already been charged with two misdemeanor tax charges. Biden has pleaded not guilty to those charges—after a plea deal to plead guilty to them collapsed at the last minute—which accuse him of failing to pay income tax in 2017 and 2018. Weiss, who was appointed special counsel to oversee the Biden investigation in August, is also expected to testify to House lawmakers in late September or October about the ongoing investigation and Shapley and Ziegler’s accusations.

Surprising Fact

Biden’s attorney Abbe Lowell separately sent a letter to Smith Monday, the Post reports, which alleges that disclosures made about Biden’s 2018 taxes do not include that Biden actually is now owed money by the IRS, after he overpaid his taxes in trying to resolve the investigation. Biden paid more than $900,000 to the IRS and likely “overstated certain items of taxable income,” Lowell alleged.

News Peg

Biden’s lawsuit comes days after he was indicted on three counts for separate allegations regarding his possession of a firearm while being a drug user and allegedly lying on his application for the gun. Weiss brought the charges against Biden following the failed plea deal, which would have allowed the president’s son to avoid the felony gun charge and instead agree to a diversion agreement, in which he would have admitted to his drug use and been required to remain drug-free for two years. The plea deal fell apart in July, as the two sides reportedly couldn’t agree on whether Biden would receive immunity against any future charges, and Weiss said on September 6 he intended to indict Biden on gun charges.

Key Background

Biden’s lawsuit against the IRS is one of several the president’s son has filed as Republicans and their allies have waged numerous allegations against him, including litigation against former Trump aide Garrett Ziegler and the owner of a computer repair shop where he dropped off his now-infamous laptop, the contents of which became a source of widespread controversy and misinformation. Shapley and his attorney have been spreading information about the Biden investigation since April, with him and Ziegler then appearing before the House Ways and Means Committee for closed-door testimony starting in May. The committee has said in public statements the whistleblowers alleged during their testimony that the Biden family was given “preferential treatment” and the tax investigation into Biden was handled differently than other IRS probes, and lawmakers alleged Garland may have perjured himself after testifying to the committee that Weiss had “full authority” to make criminal referrals in the investigation. FBI agent Thomas Sobocinski has since refuted key claims Shapley and Ziegler made in his own testimony to the committee.

Further Reading

Did Feds Undercharge Hunter Biden? GOP Builds Case Using IRS Whistleblower—Latest Unverified Claims Against Biden Family (Forbes)

A who’s who — and who says what — of the IRS-Hunter Biden dispute (Washington Post)

The IRS whistleblower at the heart of the Hunter Biden probe took notes. We’ve got them. (Politico)

FBI agent disputed key parts of IRS whistleblower claims about Hunter Biden investigation (NBC News)

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