The Treasury Department has asked authorities to investigate tax records cited in a media report that showed some of America’s richest people paid little to no income taxes.
US media outlet ProPublica said it obtained a “vast trove of Internal Revenue Service data” on the tax returns of thousands of the nation’s wealthiest people, covering more than 15 years.
The data indicated that billionaires including Tesla founder Elon Musk and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos paid no federal income taxes during some years.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that “any unauthorised disclosure of confidential government information” is illegal.
ProPublica described the records as “confidential” and did not disclose how it obtained them.
The Treasury said that the matter had been referred to the FBI, federal prosecutors and two internal watchdogs.
President Joe Biden has sought tax increases on the wealthy to help fund proposed spending on social programmes and infrastructure.
This included raising the top tax rate to 39.6 per cent from the current 37 per cent and nearly doubling the capital gains tax rate for Americans earning over $1m annually.
“I can’t speak to anything with respect to specific taxpayers,” said Charles Rettig, commissioner of the IRS part of the Treasury Department.
“I can confirm that there is an investigation, with respect to the allegations that the source of the information in that article came from the Internal Revenue Service.”