New IRS Commissioner Outlines Goals for his Term

November 14, 2018
IRS Commissioner

written on behalf of Feigenbaum Law

Earlier this fall, the Senate confirmed President Trump’s pick to head the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Charles Rettig previously practiced tax law in California for more than 36 years. During that time, he often represented taxpayers in disputes with the IRS and was a member of the IRS Advisory Council (IRSAC) for three years beginning in 2008, and served as IRSAC’s chair from 2010 to 2011. Rettig was confirmed as Commissioner of the IRS in a 64-33 vote. His term will run until 2022.

Commissioner Delivers First Major Address

This week, Rettig delivered his first major speech, addressing attendees at the AICPA National Tax Conference in Washington D.C., a convention for chartered professional accountants.

Rettig identified goals and priorities for his term, including:

  • Improving technology at the IRS;
  • Improving access to/interaction with the agency);
  • Preparing the agency for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act;
  • Improving the image of the IRS.

Improving Technology at the IRS

Rettig hopes to modernize IRS technology, some of which relies on computer systems dating back to the 1960s, noting:

Are the tools that we need beyond implementation of the tax act, the ability to call up the Internal Revenue Service and ask the IRS person about your income tax return, your business tax return and some filing question? We don’t have those tools…The IRS computer system has been patched year after year after year. It goes back to the Kennedy era.

The IRS has long had issues with its outdated IT systems. Earlier this year, a high-profile glitch on Tax Day resulted in a shut down of some systems and affected millions of taxpayers as they tried to submit their returns online.

Improving Taxpayer Access

Retting also hopes to generally improve taxpayers’ experience with the IRS, including:

  • making it easier for taxpayers to reach the IRS and receive customer service;
  • making the IRS more responsive to taxpayers who speak languages other than English or for whom English is their second or third language.

Retting cited concerns with underrepresented communities and their interaction with the IRS.

Preparing the IRS for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

Retting noted, with respect to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which will affect next year’s tax returns, that:

We’re similarly very concerned about implementation of the tax act, which is happening and will happen and you’ll be very proud. We will gain no respect for implementing the tax act on time and doing a phenomenal job. If you met the people who I’ve been meeting with who are digging in on implementation globally, every one of you would try to hire them. That’s why we don’t bring them out of the office. These are spectacular, spectacular people. They are committed to getting it right, and we’re on target.”

He further noted that both tax practitioners and taxpayers can expect additional information guidance as the IRS continues to implement the changes introduced by the Act.

Improving the Image of the IRS

Retting told the assembled conference delegates that he was seeking their constructive criticism and feedback, noting:

We can do more, we will do more, but I hope you respect the decisions that we’re making. Give us your criticisms. Give us your constructive criticisms. And if you think we get it right, go ahead and say that. Don’t just come after us when we get something wrong. You praise your children, but you also discipline your children. I’m the one who agreed to serve, but I did so knowing the entire practitioner community would be supportive. We’re taking this journey together to improve the IRS for the benefit of everyone and ultimately our country.

Retting additionally noted that he will be increasing transparency within the IRS and publicizing more internal training documents.

Other Notable Points

Retting also noted that the IRS will be taking a hard line on taxing evasion using cryptocurrency, noting that “John Doe” summonses being used by the Justice Department (as we blogged about last week) have “been yielding taxpayer information” and pointing out “you think the IRS doesn’t know?…the IRS will have more information about them than you can possibly imagine.”

We will continue to follow what is happening at the IRS under the new Commissioner’s term and will provide updates as they become available. In the interim, if you have questions about personal tax planning or corporate tax planning contact Feigenbaum Law. We have a unique practice with broad experience in US and Canadian law, as well as Canadian and US tax and accounting specialties. Our practice is based on offering personal, confidential service to individuals and corporations with all manner of cross-border tax and legal issues. We routinely provide services to those in the sports and entertainment industry including professional athletes, singers, actors, directors, producers and writers. Contact us to learn more about how we can help or call us at (416) 777-8433 or toll free at (877) 275-4792.


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