White House announces nominee for IRS commissioner

BY ALISTAIR M. NEVIUS, J.D.

The White House announced on Thursday that President Barack Obama will nominate John Koskinen as the new IRS commissioner.

In a statement, the president said, “John is an expert at turning around institutions in need of reform.” He added, “I am confident that John will do whatever it takes to restore the public’s trust in the agency.”

If approved by the Senate, Koskinen will succeed Douglas Shulman, who stepped down last November. Since then, there have been two acting commissioners: Steven Miller, a long-time IRS employee who was forced to resign in the wake of the scandal involving methods the IRS used to review applications for tax-exempt status, and Danny Werfel, who was brought in to deal with that scandal and has been serving since May 22.

The IRS commissioner serves for a five-year term. As head of the IRS, the commissioner is “responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Internal Revenue laws” (Treasury Order 150-10 (4/22/82)).

Koskinen has served as nonexecutive chairman and CEO of Freddie Mac. He was also president of the United States Soccer Foundation; deputy mayor and city administrator of Washington; assistant to the president and chair of the president’s Council on Year 2000 Conversion; and deputy director for management in the Office of Management and Budget.

Before that, Koskinen worked for the Palmieri Co. and served as administrative assistant to Sen. Abraham Ribicoff, legislative assistant to New York Mayor John Lindsey, and assistant to the deputy executive director of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders. He also practiced law with the firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and clerked for Judge David Bazelon, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Koskinen received a B.A. from Duke University (where he later served as chairman of the board of trustees and the soccer stadium is named in honor of him and his wife) and an LL.B. and J.D. from Yale University School of Law.

Alistair M. Nevius ( anevius@aicpa.org ) is the JofA’s editor-in-chief, tax.

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