President Biden hasn’t picked anyone to replace Charles Rettig as IRS commissioner, which will leaving the tax agency without a leader to spearhead an $80 billion expansion when he leaves office next month, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The delay in choosing Rettig’s replacement like means an interim IRS commissioner after Nov. 12 who might be reluctant to make binding decisions that affect the agency’s long-term future, it said. Any vacancy lasting until January would let Republicans influence or reject a Biden nominee should they win a Senate majority in November’s election, according to the report.
The IRS is set to receive $80 billion in new funding over a decade as part of Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act to help the agency increase enforcement. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the higher funding would increase revenues for the U.S. Treasury by some $200 billion over those 10 years.
Republicans seized on the funding for the tax collector to attack the law.
“They have 80,000 employees. You know what the IRS also has? 4,600 guns. 5 million rounds of ammunition. Why? Democrats want to double its already massive size,” House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy of California said on the House floor in August, according to the Washington Post.
Administration officials have been talking to potential candidates for the five-year term, the Journal report said, citing a person familiar with the search. Finding an IRS chief is no easy task. The tax agency can be unwieldy, with a long list of mandates, archaic computer systems, layers of bureaucracy and about 80,000 workers across the country, according to the report.
Candidates undergo particularly intense vetting, including reviews of multiple years of tax filings. And they must be prepared for high-stakes tax politics, navigating between lawmakers eager for aggressive enforcement and others warning that more funding will result in intrusive enforcement, the Journal said.
Rettig, picked by President Donald Trump, is a tax lawyer, but tax skills aren’t a prerequisite for the job. The administration is seeking someone with management experience who can bring private-sector skills and is familiar with the constraints of public-sector work, the person familiar with the search said, according to the Journal.
Beyond the tougher enforcement, the aim is to find someone who can transform how the IRS manages data and communicates with taxpayers, making the experience more like dealing with a large bank, it said.