Hunter Biden sues IRS over tax information disclosures

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Hunter Biden, son of U.S. President Joe Biden, departs federal court after a plea hearing on two misdemeanor charges of willfully failing to pay income taxes in Wilmington, Delaware, July 26, 2023.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

Hunter Biden filed a lawsuit Monday accusing IRS agents of “repeatedly and intentionally” publicly sharing his private tax return information while they criminally investigate him.

Those agents “have targeted and sought to embarrass Mr. Biden” by disclosing confidential information about his private tax matters to the media, the president’s son alleged in the civil suit in federal court in Washington, D.C.

Biden wants a court to declare that the IRS unlawfully revealed his tax matters and award him $1,000 in damages for each unauthorized disclosure.

The lawsuit comes days after Biden, 53, was indicted on three criminal counts related to his possession of a handgun.

Biden had neared a plea deal with prosecutors on misdemeanor charges that he failed to pay federal taxes on more than $1.5 million annually in 2017 and 2018, as well as a separate pretrial diversion agreement related to the gun matter. But the whole arrangement fell apart during a dramatic court hearing in July.

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Biden’s attorney insisted in Monday’s court filing that the new lawsuit against the IRS “is not about the legitimacy of the IRS investigation of Mr. Biden over the past five years or any decision to penalize Mr. Biden for any failure to comply with his obligations under the tax laws.”

The 27-page complaint singles out two IRS agents, Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler, and their lawyers for allegedly “engaging in a campaign to publicly smear Mr. Biden” by disclosing his tax information in more than 20 nationally televised interviews and multiple public statements.

Shapley and Ziegler had stepped forward as whistleblowers to accuse the Department of Justice of misconduct related to the yearslong tax probe of President Joe Biden’s son. But their conduct extended beyond the bounds of their whistleblower status, Hunter Biden’s attorney alleged.

That attorney, Abbe Lowell, also sent a letter Monday morning to House Ways and Means Chairman Jason Smith, R-Mo., challenging claims that Hunter Biden owed large tax amounts during certain years, including 2018.

“I am writing to let you know that your agents and you are wrong,” Lowell wrote. “Pending final development of facts impacting Mr. Biden’s 2018 tax year, it appears Mr. Biden will be due a refund for that tax year.”

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