New IRS Commissioner Confirmed

This week, after a long wait, the Senate confirmed Charles P. Rettig, President Donald Trump’s choice to lead the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which has been under the leadership of an Acting Director since the departure of former Commissioner John Koskinen in November of 2017.

The Senate approved Rettig by a vote of 64-33, with a large number of Democrats opposing his candidacy, although CBS News notes that “Democrats who voted against him did so even though they considered him qualified for the job,” while another “15 Democrats voted with the Republicans to approve Rettig.”

The Democrats used Rettig’s confirmation vote to express displeasure with the new IRS policy that they believe will allow so-called “dark money” to more freely flow into the political system via politically active “social welfare organizations.”

Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon said he was displeased with Rettig’s responses to questions regarding the potential of changing the rule.

"He wouldn't even acknowledge that there is a real problem here for the cause of transparency and openness in our democracy," Wyden said before the vote.

Generally, the news was greeted with a sense of relief. Tom Burger, Executive Director of the Professional Managers Association, which represents non-unionized managers and employees within the IRS, noted that the IRS faces mounting challenges and is in need of a confirmed director.

“Aside from the annual challenge of serving as the primary artery through which nearly all federal funds flow, the IRS has also been tasked over the past year with implementation of a sweeping tax reform law passed by Congress,” Burger wrote in a letter welcoming Rettig to his post. “However, the IRS has been asked to carry out its weighty missions despite consistent cuts to both its staffing and budget, with funding levels down 23 percent since 2010, and staffing levels in its enforcement division down more than 25 percent.”

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