ProPublica declined to reveal how it got the tax data announced on Tuesday, saying it only said it was given the IRS data in "raw form" by a party it did not identify.
In October, Twitter suspended users from sharing a New York Post article reporting damaging information from Hunter's laptop, which had been abandoned in a repair store.
The social media site said at the time that the article violated its policy against writing private information, as well as its ban on sharing hacked stuff.
Critics scourged out at the obvious hypocrisy, with some even considering that ProPublica chose not to investigate into the finances of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to avoid bans from the social media giants.
"So on what basis should BigTech have censored the NYPost story on Hunter Biden's emails, but allow free sharing of the ProPublica tax report?" tweeted Andy Grewal, a law professor at the University of Iowa. "I don't think either should be censored … I'm just wondering about BigTech's distinction," he added.
The collection of records published by ProPublica showed that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos paid no income tax in 2007 and 2011, while Tesla boss Elon Musk's income tax bill came to zero in 2018.
Investor George Soros went three straight years - between 2016 and 2018 - without paying federal income tax, according to the records.
Nevertheless, the secret tax records showed no government fraud or illegal conduct and primarily helped to show how the tax code works -- namely that capital gains are not taxed until stocks are sold.
"Many will ask about the ethics of publishing such private data. We are doing so — quite selectively and carefully — because we believe it serves the public interest in fundamental ways, allowing readers to see patterns that were until now hidden," ProPublica explained.
Some critics cited ProPublica with issuing the report to advance an ideological agenda, possibly using the information to gather support for Democratic tax policies.
ProPublica itself noted the report comes at a "crucial moment" politically, noting President Biden's will to hike taxes on the wealthy.
"This is really seedy," Wall Street Journal columnist Bill McGurn remarked in an interview with Fox News. "It's also a crime to leak or hack into confidential information, and to do it for political purposes is really slimy."
"It is not an investigative journalism piece to expose illegal activity or government corruption, but rather uses illegally leaked private information of citizens to make ideological and political points," tweeted journalist Jeryl Beier.