‘I’m Going to Have to Refer You to the IRS’: White House Remains Quiet on Surprise Visit to Taibbi’s House
The White House remained silent when asked during Wednesday’s press briefing whether the unannounced Internal Revenue Service (IRS) visit to journalist Matt Taibbi’s house was politically motivated.
“The journalist Matt Taibbi, this week said that the IRS visited his home on the same day as he testified to a House Select Subcommittee on the alleged weaponization of government. Taibbi worked on the Twitter Files project that revealed government cooperation,” a member of the White House press corps noted.
“I was wondering if you could respond to this Taibbi visit by the IRS and say whether this is part of a campaign to harass or intimidate him related to his journalism?”
The White House, however, stonewalled the reporter: “I’m afraid I’m going to have to refer you to the IRS,” John Kirby, the Coordination for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council (NSC), said.
On Monday, the Wall Street Journal first broke the news that the IRS paid an unannounced visit to the investigative journalist’s New Jersey residence on the very same day that Taibbi was testifying on Capitol Hill before the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government on March 9.
The IRS reportedly instructed Taibbi to phone the federal agency in regard to his 2018 and 2021 tax filings because of “concerns over identity theft.”
Taibbi shared his 2018 tax submission with the Select Committee, which showed that his filing was “electronically accepted” and that no problem was registered with the return for “more than four-and-a-half years,” the Journal editorial notes.
Taibbi’s 2021 return was rejected twice despite his accountant using an “IRS-provided pin number” with the journalist adding that the core dispute was not “monetary” and that the federal agency owes him a “considerable” amount of money.
During Taibbi’s testimony on March 9, ranking Democrats including Stacey Plaskett (D., V.I.) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fl.) grilled him and called into question his credentials as an independent journalist.
“Elon Musk spoon-fed you his cherry-picked information, which you must have suspected promotes a slanted viewpoint or, at the very least, generates a right-wing conspiracy theory. You violated your own standards, and you appear to have benefitted from it,” the Florida representative accused Taibbi at one point.
Taibbi decided to inform the Subcommittee of the unexpected IRS visit after Wasserman Schultz raised the prospect of his income during the hearing.
“I decided the Committee should probably know,” Taibbi told National Review adding that the “IRS is now saying there’s no problem.”
Representative Jim Jordan (R., Ohio), chair of the House Judiciary Committee and the Select Subcommittee, consequently sent letters to IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfe and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen demanding more information into the unusual timing of the visit.
Republicans have been grilling the federal agency, the Treasury Department, and the Biden administration ever since for clarification on the matter. However, much like the White House, the IRS has refrained from speaking in detail about the matter.
“Federal law prohibits the IRS from commenting on individual taxpayer matters,” an agency spokesman told the New York Post.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen was asked by Representative Chris Stewart (R., Utah) for her thoughts on the incident.
“That the IRS appeared at someone’s home while he’s testifying about the weaponization of the federal government before Congress? Because I think it’s minuscule. I think it’s one in a million or less,” Representative Stewart said during Wednesday’s hearing.
“It’s certainly something that I would want to look into,” the Treasury Secretary responded.
“I’m not aware that IRS agents do that, except as you said, in cases where there’s an investigation for law-breaking that’s underway.”