Bannon, who was chief White House strategist under Donald Trump, is accused of failing to comply with a subpoena issued by a special House committee investigating the Riot at the United States Capitol January 6th.
The 67-year-old cited a claim by Donald Trump that his communications are protected by a legal doctrine of executive privilege.
The former president has claimed privilege over documents and the interviews of committee members are demanding.
Bannon was nevertheless charged with one count of contempt of Congress involving his refusal to appear for a deposition and one involving his refusal to produce documents, the Justice Department said.
Each count carries a sentence of up to one year behind bars.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said the charges against Bannon reflect an “unwavering commitment” to “equal justice before the law.”
Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows defied a similar subpoena.
Mr Meadows’ attorney said he was in an “acute legal conflict” with the panel – again over Mr Trump’s claim of executive privilege.
The chairman of the committee, Representative Bennie Thompson, said he would recommend contempt charges against Mr Meadows next week.
In a letter to Mr. Meadows’ attorney, George Terwilliger, Representative Thompson said if Mr. Meadows did not answer questions it would be considered “willful non-compliance”.
President Biden will waive any privileges that prevent Meadows from cooperating with the committee, the White House has said.
But Terwilliger said “legal disputes are appropriately resolved by the courts,” adding: “It would be irresponsible of Mr. Meadows to prematurely resolve this dispute by voluntarily waiving the privileges that are at the heart of these legal issues. “.
District Judge Tanya Chutkan supported Mr. Biden’s position, noting in a ruling this week that “presidents are not kings.”