In a court document, the government says the leaks included information about “Public Official A,” which a person familiar with the charges confirmed is Trump.
Littlejohn faces a maximum five years in prison, the Justice Department said.
The charges were filed as a “criminal information” rather than an indictment, which typically means the defendant has entered a plea deal.
The announcement comes more than two years after ProPublica said it had obtained a massive trove of information about the taxes and incomes of wealthy people, many of them well known, going back some 15 years. It published a series of stories showing many of them paid little or nothing in taxes.
The leak astonished many IRS veterans, not just because of its sheer scale, but because tax filings are subject to elaborate safeguards and unauthorized disclosures are rare.
Adding to the mystery was the silence of Biden administration officials, who had said virtually nothing publicly about the leak or how it had happened. Republicans accused Democrats of disclosing the information in hopes of fueling their push in Congress to raise taxes on the rich.
At the same time, one of the people whose records were leaked — Ken Griffin, a prominent hedge fund manager — sued the IRS for failing to protect his tax filings. In court, the administration argued there was no evidence that leak came from a government employee.
In a statement Friday, IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said: “Any disclosure of taxpayer information is unacceptable.”
“The IRS has put in place new protocols and protections that tightened security, and our aggressive work in this critical area continues in order to protect the tax and financial information of taxpayers.”
A lawyer for Littlejohn declined to comment.
A ProPublica spokesperson also declined to comment other than to say the organization has repeatedly said that it did not know the identity of the person who gave them the documents. The New York Times did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Littlejohn was given access to the records “for purposes of tax administration” while working as a contractor to a consulting firm, the government says in a court document.
He stole the data from around 2018 to 2020, prosecutors say. They did not explain how they came to charge Littlejohn.
The case is sure to renew questions about security precautions not just at the IRS but in the constellation of other people who have varying degrees of access to private tax information. From the outset, some IRS veterans speculated the leak came not from within the agency itself but from someone working with the department such as a contractor.
Sen. Mike Crapo, the top Republican on the Finance Committee, said: “While many questions remain, at the very least, IRS guardrails failed to prevent this brazen breach of taxpayer rights.”
“It goes without saying that resolving these and other ongoing security issues at the IRS, as well as identifying and making whole the individuals impacted by this breach, must be the IRS’s highest priority.”
Said Griffin, the hedge fund manager suing the IRS: “The government has a fundamental obligation to protect the confidentiality of Americans’ sensitive information, whether it be tax records or healthcare records.”
Josh Gerstein contributed to this report.