Paul L. Caron
Dean


Thursday, November 24, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1295: If Koskinen Is Impeached Or Fired, Trump Could Appoint New IRS Commissioner To Go Easy On His Taxes

IRS Logo 2Politico, Trump Gets to Pick His Own Auditor: Lawyers Say There's Nothing to Stop Him From Appointing an IRS Chief Who Will Go Easy on Him:

President-elect Donald Trump will soon be able to appoint a new director of the agency auditing his taxes, a potential political minefield after his writeoffs and his refusal to release his returns were repeatedly questioned in the campaign.

The president is barred from directing how the IRS treats specific taxpayers, but lawyers say there’s nothing to stop Trump from appointing an IRS chief who will go easy on him while scrutinizing his political enemies.

“There is precious little statutorily that prohibits that,” said Caplin & Drysdale tax lawyer Chris Rizek, who served in the Treasury Department’s Office of Legislative Counsel under former president Clinton.

Trump could have the opportunity to put his own IRS chief into place quickly, even though the IRS commissioner serves a fixed five-year term to shield the agency from presidential politics. Current Commissioner John Koskinen, whose term ends next November, is facing potential impeachment in the House over his handling of investigations, and he could come under pressure to resign before Trump takes office. House Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan reiterated his call for impeachment this month, and lobbyists expect Trump to give Koskinen the boot to throw conservatives a bone. ...

The IRS also reviews the president’s and vice president’s returns each year, but those audits aren’t required by law, and Trump could stop them. “They don’t need Congress’ approval to change that,” [Valparaiso Law Professor David] Herzig said. “It might raise red flags politically. But you could just change it, or you could just not enforce that part about presidential audits.” ...

Trump is taking office at a time when the IRS has already been weathering accusations that its audits are politically motivated.

The IRS admitted to using “Be On the Lookout” lists to target political groups seeking tax-exempt status in May 2013, after an inspector general audit found the agency was using “inappropriate criteria” to flag “Tea Party and other organizations…based upon their names or policy positions.” No evidence was ever uncovered the White House had anything to do with scandal, but some conservatives argue President Obama in effect sent a dog whistle audit plea by publicly criticizing political social welfare groups, prodding former IRS official Lois Lerner to take it upon herself to act.

Koskinen himself says that the tea party controversy, which he was brought in to clean up, should illustrate the importance of a nonpolitical, independent IRS.

“It’s reemphasized the importance of making sure that there isn’t a question about the IRS being political,” Koskinen maintained.

For the most part, the IRS has gotten pretty good at shrugging off political pressures, tax lawyers said.

“It is not at all uncommon for people to clamor for IRS or DOJ activity or criminal investigation, and the IRS kind of takes the position that they ignore that political pressure. I have not heard of any instance since 1973 of anyone at the White House calling anyone at the IRS to ask for an audit or put pressure on a taxpayer,” [Chris Rizek, who served in the Treasury Department’s Office of Legislative Counsel under former president Clinton] said. “Because if that got out it would be a pretty outrageous news story.”

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2016/11/the-irs-scandal-day-1295-if-koskinen-is-impeached-or-fired-trump-could-appoint-new-irs-commissioner-.html

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Comments

"but lawyers say there’s nothing to stop Trump from appointing an IRS chief who will go easy on him while scrutinizing his political enemies."

Hey, the Democrats have been doing it for the last eight years, maybe its time for the Republicans to get their turn...

Posted by: champ | Nov 24, 2016 9:27:35 AM

After 8 years of the Obama doctrine and a subservient cheerleading media, the media still isn't self aware.

Posted by: Wodun | Nov 24, 2016 10:09:26 AM

What IRS? The Republicon Party Platform (p. 27) calls for the abolition of the IRS. Problem solved.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Nov 25, 2016 7:06:01 AM