Congress’s top tax expert led Republicans Wednesday in demanding President Trump fire IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, saying the tax agency cannot be repaired as long as he’s at the helm.
“Trust in the IRS is hitting rock-bottom,” the Republicans, led by Rep. Kevin Brady, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said in a letter calling on Mr. Trump to take action.
The 15 committee Republicans said not only did the IRS destroy evidence from key figure Lois G. Lerner’s computer in the tea party targeting probe, but the agency also “intentionally” made the tax experience painful for customers in order to make a political point to the GOP.
The Republicans said Mr. Koskinen, who was installed as commissioner in 2013 and charged with cleaning up the agency, has shown he can’t do it.
Mr. Koskinen’s term is scheduled to expire in November already, but the Republicans said Mr. Trump can’t wait that long to oust him — particularly at a time when Congress is trying to rewrite the tax code.
“He has been dishonest with Congress, and the IRS—under his watch—has continuously violated taxpayer rights. He has to go,” Mr. Brady said. “We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity for pro-growth tax reform, and we need a willing partner at the IRS to implement it. That partner is not John Koskinen.”
Mr. Koskinen has survived a GOP attempt to impeach him, and has defended his tenure. He said he didn’t intend for any of Ms. Lerner’s emails to be lost, didn’t intend to mislead Congress over the fiasco, and blamed his agency’s abysmal customer service on lawmakers, who he said short-changed his budget.
The agency’s inspector general has backed up Mr. Koskinen’s claim on the Lerner emails, saying that while their deletion could have been avoided, it was a freak confluence of events, not political motivations, that led to the problem.
But the inspector general did indicate that Mr. Koskinen’s agency siphoned money away from customer service at a time when it knew it was seeing a higher demand - a bungle for which the agency gave unconvincing justifications.