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Thursday, December 26, 2013

New IRS Commissioner - Does anyone care?

On November 9, 2012, (former) IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman stepped down as his five year term ended (even though he had not served a full term). We then had acting Commissioner Miller who resigned on May 21, 2013 due to the Section 501(c)(4) controversy. We got a new acting Commissioner - Daniel I. Werfel on May 22, 2013. Because the term "acting" can only be used for 210 days after the official position holder leaves, his title was Principal Deputy Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement.

On August 1, 2013, President Obama nominated John Koskinen. President Obama stated:

"John is an expert at turning around institutions in need of reform.  With decades of experience, in both the private and public sectors, John knows how to lead in difficult times, whether that means ensuring new management or implementing new checks and balances.  Every part of our government must operate with absolute integrity and that is especially true for the IRS.  I am confident that John will do whatever it takes to restore the public’s trust in the agency.”

The Senate Finance Committee held hearings on December 10 and 11, 2013. The committee approved his nomination by voice vote on 12/13/13 and the Senate voted to confirm him as the 48th IRS Commissioner on 12/20/13 (59-36 vote). On that same day, President Obama issued a brief statement applauding the senators who voted to confirm and thanking Mr. Werfel.

Commissioner Koskinen's term will end on November 12, 2017. That is due to the language of IRC Section 7803, Commissioner of Internal Revenue; other officials. Thus, he loses 13 months of his five year term due to delays of the nomination and confirmation process.

It was known for months that Shulman would be stepping down because the statute says that the Commissioner's five year term begins November 13 (originally it was 1997 and appears to be every five years from that point regardless of precisely when the Commissioner starts or ends their official time as the Commissioner).

Despite running a significant organization with over 92,000 employees that collects over $2.2 trillion of revenue and affects the lives of most people in the U.S., it doesn't seem to me that anyone really cares about who is running the IRS.  While I get asked lots of tax questions every week, no one has asked why there was no permanent commissioner and no one has asked me anything about new Commissioner Koskinen.  Why is that?

At his Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing, Mr. Koskinen noted that his priorities at the IRS would include dealing with identity theft, implementing the Affordable Care Act, improving employee morale and dealing with funding issues.  Those are all very important and significant tasks that need attention.  I wish him well.

What do you think? Why does it seem that no one cares about who leads the IRS or even if there is someone leading it?


Anonymous said...

Perhaps it is apathy, and a perception that the IRS Commissioner has little impact on the workings of the IRS.
If the Commissioner were the Director of Accounts Receivable in a for-profit corporation, his position would be viewed with much scrutiny.
People would ask questions like, "how efficient is your organization?", "do you have metrics on employee productivity, e.g., revenue per employee", "is your organization optimized to maximize revenue?", "are you using the best high-tech methods to review accounts and perform collections?".
As a taxpayer, I am in a position analogous to a stockholder, and I'd certainly like to know more about the performance of the IRS.
Perhaps, as in most corporations, the IRS commissioner should get a bonus based on performance.

Anonymous said...

I am appalled by the choice of Commissioner. It seems a trend to put people in positions they nothing about. He is not a tax attorney or accountant. He has never dealt with the IRS from the IRS side or from the private citizen or entity side. He has no idea the amount of inefficiencies in procedures, processes and over staffing, let alone oversight of areas. He never will. A much better candidate would have been someone who may have worked for the IRS and practiced tax law in a law or accounting firm and/ as tax director of a large corporation. But that will never happen.

I have worked on both sides and know the problems of the IRS. The commissioner is one who only acts as the head, does not get down with the troops in the trenches and does not know the right questions to ask.

Schulman was terrible and we have another non tax person who will not do anything.

It is unfortunate but there are many qualified candidates who could do a better job than this old hanger on. Please retire and let a qualificed person run the IRS.

tax return preparation Montreal said...

We may observe how he performs since President Obama nominates him in that position.