IRS Releases Message After Massive Data Leak

Matthew G. Bisanz, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

( – On Tuesday, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) publicly apologized to Citadel CEO and billionaire Ken Griffin and the “thousands of other Americans” who had their personal tax information leaked to the press. Among the other Americans who were victims of the leak are former President Donald and billionaire Elon Musk, although the IRS didn’t mention either by name in the statement.

In its statement, the IRS noted that it is taking its “responsibilities seriously,” acknowledging its failure to “prevent” the criminal conduct of Charles Littlejohn, which included disclosing Griffin’s confidential data.

Charles Littlejohn was at the center of a data breach that leaked the tax data of affluent Americans to the media between 2018 and 2020. Littlejohn accessed the data and made the leaks while working as an IRS contractor.

The IRS then assured Griffin “and the other victims” of Littlejohn that the agency had made “substantial investments” in improving its data security, which it explained would strengthen its ability to safeguard taxpayer’s data. 

The agency also clarified that it focused its investments on data security and “potential weaknesses” based on vulnerabilities recognized by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

It concluded by promising it would continue investing in improving the security of its systems.

The agency’s public apology, which singles out Griffin, was part of the settlement agreement made by the Citadel CEO and the IRS after the former sued the agency following a data leak.

In an appearance on Fox Business’s “Special Report” on Tuesday, Brooke Cucinella, an attorney for Citadel, highlighted that the IRS’ apology and investment in security is “the exact result” the firm had wanted to accomplish, adding that Griffin brought the case in hopes “of getting the IRS to do what is right” and protect the data of Americans.

Cucinella added that the IRS had been informed of its “security vulnerabilities” for years prior to the leak, but noted that it had “done nothing.” She added that “it took someone in [Griffin’s] position… to pursue a case like this,” and get the IRS to publicly admit that it needed to reduce those vulnerabilities.

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