The Internal Revenue Service asked a judge Tuesday to dismiss parts of a lawsuit Hunter Biden filed against the agency over allegations that IRS agents unlawfully disclosed his private tax information.
The IRS said in a court filing that the lawsuit should be dismissed because it included claims made by agents’ lawyers, who are not U.S. government employees. The agency also said it should be dismissed because Biden seeks damages that are not covered by privacy law.
President Joe Biden’s son had sued the IRS in September 2023 over two claims. The first was that two IRS whistleblowers, Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler, and their attorneys improperly disclosed his confidential information. The second was that the IRS purposely failed to install safeguards that would protect that information.
The IRS asked that a judge drop a portion of one of Hunter Biden’s accusations and the entirety of his other accusation.
Shapley, Ziegler, and their two attorneys made “numerous public appearances and statements that blatantly violated Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code by engaging in a campaign to publicly smear Mr. Biden,” Hunter Biden’s defense team alleged.
Shapley and Ziegler are two longtime IRS criminal investigators who spent years on the Hunter Biden investigation before coming forward to Congress with concerns that government officials had provided favorable treatment to the Biden family.
Shapley first approached Congress in a letter through his attorney, Mark Lytle, in April 2023. Lytle, one of the two unnamed attorneys referenced in Hunter Biden’s lawsuit against the IRS, wrote that a high-profile government investigation was plagued by “preferential treatment and politics.” Lytle did not name Hunter Biden, but several media outlets reported at the time that they had learned the letter was about the Department of Justice’s yearslong investigation into the first son’s tax affairs.
The IRS noted in its filing on Tuesday that Hunter Biden publicly revealed he was under federal investigation long before Shapley and Ziegler ever approached Congress.
And while the IRS said the attorneys should be excluded from Hunter Biden’s lawsuit, the agency did not address the first son’s claims against Shapley and Ziegler, who have been characterized widely as whistleblowers after they initially made their disclosures about the DOJ’s Hunter Biden case to Congress.
Hunter Biden was charged last month in a nine-count indictment in California over allegations that he failed to pay more than $1 million in taxes during a four-year period. He pleaded not guilty and is awaiting a trial in the case.
The IRS lawsuit is one of several he filed last year. It came as the first son began adopting a more aggressive strategy of publicly countering the constant flood of headlines that have for years highlighted allegations against him and at times put a spotlight on salacious bits about his personal life originating from his abandoned laptop.
Empower Oversight, a group that provides legal representation for whistleblowers, has called Hunter Biden’s lawsuit a “frivolous smear.” In addition to Lytle, Empower Oversight President Tristan Leavitt is the other attorney referenced in the lawsuit.