On March 9th, 2023, the IRS sent agents to the home of Twitter-files journalist Matt Taibbi during his testimony in front of the House Select Committee on Weaponization of the Federal Government.
During Friday’s House Ways and Means Committee hearing, Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL) asked IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel about the matter. Steube compared the IRS’s actions to those of the Soviet Union and Communist China.
“The agents left a note telling Mr. Taibbi to call them. If this was an issue that could be handled with a phone call, there would seem to be no reason to send the agents in person,” Steube said. “The presumption has to be that this was an attempt to intimidate a witness, unless it can be proven otherwise. I mean, this is the type of tactics you see in Soviet or communist China.”
Steube went on to ask Werfel if he approved of the visit to Taibbi’s home and what the approval process was for investigations.
“Are there any incidences with any taxpayer that you would have to approve the involvement of either an agent going to their house or approval of an investigation?” Steube asked.
Werfel responded by stating that, as a general rule, the IRS Commissioner is not involved in such matters. He also emphasized that any home visit that occurs is typically after the taxpayer has been contacted through a letter or some less invasive method.
However, Steube was not satisfied with Werfel’s responses and continued to press him on the issue.
“Obviously, there’s got to be some type of approval process for investigations, right?” Steube asked. “So, whether it’s Mr. Taibbi or whoever, what is that process within the IRS? And are there instances depending on the profile of the taxpayer that you would be involved? And if you would not be involved, who is the approval process for opening an investigation, going to an individual’s home, how does that work?”
Werfel stated that he would need to get back to Steube with more specific information, as he was still learning about the process.
The incident involving Taibbi’s home visit raises concerns about the IRS’s use of intimidation tactics against taxpayers and witnesses. Taibbi is a journalist who has written extensively about the intersection of politics and technology, as well as government surveillance.
Most recently, he has been involved in reporting on the release of internal documents from Twitter, known as the “Twitter Files,” which revealed the company’s internal policies and practices related to content moderation and censorship.
In March 2023, during his testimony in front of the House Select Committee on Weaponization of the Federal Government, IRS agents were sent to Taibbi’s home. This incident raised concerns about the IRS’s use of intimidation tactics against taxpayers and witnesses.
Earlier in April, Democratic lawmakers threatened to prosecute Taibbi with up to five years in prison for allegedly lying under oath to Congress. However, this accusation was debunked by other journalists, and it appeared to be a clear case of political bias and an attempt to silence a journalist who reported on the overreach and abuses of the federal government on social media platforms.