Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
New IRS head says taxpayers no longer trust agency
First Published Jun 03 2013 03:07 pm • Last Updated Jun 03 2013 03:07 pm

Washington • His agency under relentless fire, the new head of the Internal Revenue Service acknowledged to Congress on Monday that American taxpayers no longer trust the IRS amid a growing number of scandals — from the targeting of conservative political groups to lavish spending on employee conferences.

But Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel declared he was "committed to restoring that trust." He said he has installed new leadership at the agency and is conducting a thorough review of what went wrong and how to fix it.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

He promised the transparency that was lacking for several years as tea party groups complained about harassment by the IRS, only to be met with denials from the agency.

"We must have the trust of the American taxpayer. Unfortunately, that trust has been broken," Werfel told a House Appropriations subcommittee in his first public appearance since taking over the agency nearly two weeks ago. "The agency stands ready to confront the problems that occurred, hold accountable those who acted inappropriately, be open about what happened, and permanently fix these problems so that such missteps do not occur again."

"It has to start," Werfel added, "with a recognition that a trust has been violated."

Werfel testified at a difficult time for the agency. Criticized from inside and outside the government, Werfel went to Capitol Hill to ask for a big budget increase. President Barack Obama has requested a 9 percent increase in IRS spending for the budget year that starts in October, in part to help pay for the implementation of the new health care law.

House Republicans have voted 37 times to eliminate, defund or partly scale back the Affordable Care Act, and many are not eager to increase funding for an agency that will play a central role in enforcing compliance.

"We will have to think very carefully about how much money to provide to the IRS," said Rep. Ander Crenshahw, R-Fla., chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on financial services and general government.

An inspector general’s report last month said IRS agents improperly targeted conservative political groups for additional scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status during the 2010 and 2012 election campaigns. The revelations have prompted investigations by three congressional committees and the Justice Department.

The agency’s previous acting commissioner was forced to resign, another official retired and a third was placed on paid administrative leave.


story continues below
story continues below

A new inspector general’s report, to be released Tuesday, says the IRS spent $50 million to hold at least 220 conferences for employees between 2010 and 2012.

The conference spending included $4 million for an August 2010 gathering in Anaheim, Calif., for which the agency did not negotiate lower room rates, even though that is standard government practice, according to a statement by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Instead, some of the 2,600 attendees received benefits, including baseball tickets and stays in presidential suites that normally cost $1,500 to $3,500 per night. In addition, 15 outside speakers were paid a total of $135,000 in fees, with one paid $17,000 to talk about "leadership through art," the committee said.

Werfel has called the conference "an unfortunate vestige from a prior era."

Obama appointed Werfel as acting head of the IRS and ordered him to conduct a 30-day review of the agency’s operations.

"Wherever we find management failures or breakdowns in internal controls, we will move to correct these problems quickly and in a robust manner," Werfel said. "As we move forward with our work, we will be transparent about what we learn, our specific plans for improvement, the actions we take and the results achieved."

———

Associated Press writer Alan Fram contributed to this report.

———

Follow Stephen Ohlemacher on Twitter: http://twitter.com/stephenatap



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.