A New York Times columnist is soliciting IRS employees to commit a felony by leaking President Donald Trump’s tax returns to the paper.
“If you’re in IRS and have a certain president’s tax return that you’d like to leak, my address is: NYT, 620 Eighth Ave, NY NY 10018,” Nicholas Kristof wrote on Twitter on Sunday:
But if you're in IRS and have a certain president's tax return that you'd like to leak, my address is: NYT, 620 Eighth Ave, NY NY 10018. https://t.co/ujYe100Tn9
— Nicholas Kristof (@NickKristof) March 6, 2017
Kristof, who writes about global affairs for the Times, responded to a Twitter post from Vox.com executive editor Matthew Yglesias, who said that “it’s impressive that the IRS never leaks”:
It's impressive that the IRS never leaks.
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) March 6, 2017
According to the IRS Internal Revenue Manual, the “unauthorized release” of a tax return is a felony punishable by a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison.
Leakers would also face professional sanctions, including termination of employment.
Trump has not released his tax returns, claiming they are under audit.
The president talked about releasing his tax returns during the 2016 campaign but never did.
In October, the Times published portions of Trump’s tax returns from his 1995 state tax records. The documents showed that he claimed a $916 million loss.
An anonymous tipster sent the Times the records, which set off an ethical and legal debate about their publication.
An article in the Washington Post argued that the Times was breaking the law by publishing the returns, while a Slate piece argued that the Times would be protected by the First Amendment and that the law only covers federal tax returns, not state tax returns.
The Trump campaign accused the Times of “illegally obtaining” Trump’s tax returns just weeks after New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet said he would risk jail time to publish Trump’s taxes.