IRS employee charged with illegally accessing celebrity tax records

An Internal Revenue Service tax examiner has been charged with snooping into the tax records of nearly 200 actors, celebrities, professional athletes, and even his next-door neighbor.

John Snyder, of the Covington, KY IRS processing center, allegedly looked up personal information on actors Kevin Bacon, Alec Baldwin, Sally Field, Vanna White, and the late Eddie Albert. Athletes who were snoop victims included tennis champion Steffi Graf, Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs players, and Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, according to an affidavit filed by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

Snyder, an IRS employee since 1991, is a co-author of a book on the Cincinnati Reds, WLWT News reported, and started snooping into tax records in 2003.

Authorities caught Snyder during a routine audit of who was accessing personal and tax information in a federal database called the Integrated Data Retrieval Systems, the Kentucky Enquirer reported. Snyder had access to the database, but no legitimate reason to look up individual taxpayers' information since he works on business accounts, the affidavit said.

He was charged May 29 with a misdemeanor, improperly accessing IRS data, and faces up to a year in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted. His next court appearance is set for July 1.

In total, Snyder is accused of looking up confidential information on 197 celebrities, one neighbor and four publishers. Additional targets allegedly include: John Cleese, Timothy Bottoms, Portia De Rossi, Penny Marshall, Randy Quaid, Tara Reid, Maura Tierney, and Chevy Chase.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky, which is handling the case, said in a press release that Snyder stated he'd looked at the records out of curiosity.

"Identifying unauthorized access to taxpayer information by IRS employees is one of TIGTA's top investigative priorities," said Timothy P. Camus, TIGTA's Assistant Inspector General for Investigations. "TIGTA works closely with the IRS to protect the integrity of tax administration and we appreciate the assistance of the IRS in these types of investigations."

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