- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A top Democratic senator said Wednesday he fears the IRS may be too biased to handle the audit of President Trump’s taxes, saying the fact that the agency is led by an acting commissioner who is also a top Trump political appointee at the main Treasury Department is worrisome.

Sen. Ron Wyden, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said an agency already roiled by problems of political taint stemming from the tea party targeting needs to be extra careful to avoid conflicts now.

“Yet, we now face a situation where the acting IRS commissioner is concurrently one of the president’s principle tax advisors,” Mr. Wyden wrote in a letter to David Kautter, the man in question.

The IRS commissioner is not directly involved in audits, which are left to career civil servants.

Mr. Kautter took over as acting chief after the departure in early November of John Koskinen, an Obama-era appointee sent in to clean up after the tea party mess, but who ran into troubles of his own after giving Congress wrong information about the status of the investigation into former IRS Senior Executive Lois G. Lerner.

Mr. Trump’s taxes have long been a hot political issue. He has declined to release his forms, breaking with decades-old tradition. Mr. Trump says he faces a years-old audit, and as long as that’s going on he won’t provide his taxes to the public.

Some tax forms leaked during the campaign, and Democrats have been eager to get a look at even more information, saying they expect a web of financial entanglements to emerge.

Mr. Wyden said Mr. Kautter, who in addition to leading the IRS is the assistant secretary for tax policy at the Treasury Department, must also answer for whether the tax policy job has been politicized.

An inspector general is already probing whether there was political interference in the Treasury Department’s analysis of the new GOP tax cut bill, Mr. Wyden said.


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