Policy

Tax Panel Republicans Ask Trump to Dump IRS Chief

Letter to Trump comes ahead of April 18 filing deadline, continues efforts to force out Koskinen

From left, House Ways and Means chairman Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, speaks with House Energy and Commerce chairman Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., during the House Rules Committee meeting to formulate a rule on H.R.1628, the "American Health Care Act of 2017" on Wednesday, March 22, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady and 14 other Republicans on the tax-writing committee urged President Donald Trump to replace IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, citing a need to restore trust in the agency.

The letter to Trump comes ahead of the April 18 tax-filing deadline and continues GOP efforts to impeach or force out Koskinen. He’s been under fire for misstatements to Congress and lack of cooperation in a probe of the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.

“In order for the IRS to fully reap the benefits of new leadership and regain the trust of the American people, the committee believes that we must have a new commissioner appointed as soon as possible,” Brady and committee Republicans wrote.

“We believe that trust cannot be fully restored under Commissioner Koskinen’s leadership,” they added.

There are 24 Republicans on the committee and nine GOP members did not sign the letter.

Koskinen, appointed by President Barack Obama in 2013, has said he will stay on until his term ends in November. 

“The Commissioner remains focused on the important tax administration work being done at the IRS and continues to lead the agency through the nation’s tax filing season,” a statement from the IRS said. 

Koskinien is scheduled to testify Thursday before the Senate Finance Committee on IRS operations and the tax filing season. The IRS said it has handled more than 93 million tax returns filed so far this year, with 74 million refunds issued.

The IRS commissioner is “also focused on making sure the agency is protected from the ongoing attacks on our systems by organized criminals around the world and their continued efforts to file false refunds based on identity theft,” the agency said. 

The agency’s close scrutiny of conservative groups occurred before Koskinen took office. But the Republican the letter criticized Koskinen for “shockingly inept” dealings with congressional investigators and asserted he “refuses to be held accountable to the public.”

“Not only was key evidence relevant to this committee’s investigation destroyed under his watch, but he also misled Congress in the process, intentionally degraded customer service at the agency, and has since lost the trust of the American people,” Brady and his Republican committee members said.

A spokesman for Democratic tax writers said they mentioned the Koskinen letter in their private meeting with Brady on tax issues Wednesday and noted “how this type of partisan action hurts the prospects for bipartisanship in other issues, such as working together on issues like tax reform.”

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