The President has struggled to set up a permanent leadership team at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Without a fully staffed bureaucracy, the IRS will not be able to implement Trump’s new tax reforms.
The IRS has been under the leadership of an Acting Commissioner since November, after the reign of corrupt Obama appointee, John Koskinen came to an end. Back in February, Trump had nominated Chuck Rettig for the top position. However, the Senate Finance Committee is still going through the consideration process in the Senate.
Koskinen’s term legally ended back in November, before which he urged a seamless and enduring leadership transition. “Any organization runs better when it has a leader who’s going to be there permanently,” Koskinen was quoted saying on Friday.
According to a White House official, the administration took the time to carefully shortlist through the candidates so they can find the right person for the job.
“The President’s team took as much time as was necessary to pick the best possible nominee from among many qualified candidates,” said the official. “In the meantime, the President named David Kautter to serve as acting IRS Commissioner as soon as Koskinen left. This process is above all meant to ensure the highest caliber of individuals are named for Presidential appointments, and we call on the Senate to swiftly confirm Mr. Rettig.”
Many are concerned about Kautter fulfilling the duties that come with the two important roles, at the IRS and the Treasury. Kautter’s both roles play a major part in the implementation of the new tax laws, putting him further under pressure.
“You sort of have one person dividing their time between two jobs,” stated Mazur, who had the same job as Kautter, at the Treasury Department, during Obama’s administration. “And they’re two full-time jobs.” He further advised that instead of Kautter laboring over two jobs, the administration should hire “someone who can advocate for the IRS full time.”
Earlier in the month, the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) stated that it is now the time for the Acting Commissioner of the IRS, to get “back to his other full-time day job.”
The IRS being under the leadership of an Acting Commissioner is not something out of the ordinary, neither is it unusual for the confirmation process to take up a long time. All of this has happened before in the history of the IRS. However, the issue right now is that the stakes are very high. A lot is riding on the establishment of a new IRS team who can not only resolve the challenges inside the agency but also implement Trump’s new tax laws.
“There should be a greater sense of urgency here,” Mark Mazur stated, who is the Director of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center and has previously served as a Treasury Department official for Obama’s administration.
Last week, the IRS met with a major setback when a hardware issue resulted in major technical difficulties. This system failure ultimately resulted in a one-day deadline extension for taxpayers, who had to file their returns.
Former IRS Commissioner Mark Everson, who served from 2003 till 2007, and who is currently the Alliantgroup’s Vice Chairman, stated that the issues with the IRS systems would now be put under the microscope. He also said that since Rettig is soon going to be overseeing the IRS and would be eventually dealing with the system improvements, he should also be included in the discussions.
“There’s more accountability when you have a Senate-confirmed commissioner,” stated Everson.