IRS chief: Resignation didn't come up in meeting with Trump team

IRS chief: Resignation didn't come up in meeting with Trump team
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IRS Commissioner John Koskinen says he met with members of President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpStowaway found in landing gear of plane after flight from Guatemala to Miami Kushner looking to Middle East for investors in new firm: report GOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips MORE's transition team last week, but the subject of whether Trump would ask him to resign was not discussed.

"In none of that conversation did anything come up about my tenure," Koskinen said in an interview with Tax Analysts published Wednesday.

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"It was really focused on the agency, its challenges and what it would take to allow it to improve its operations, its outreach to taxpayers."

Many Republican lawmakers have been critical of Koskinen and have accused him of engaging in misconduct during congressional investigations into IRS handling of Tea Party groups' tax-exempt status.

Earlier this month, the House Freedom Caucus tried to force a floor vote on impeaching Koskinen, but the effort failed and the House voted to refer the impeachment resolution to the Judiciary Committee.

Koskinen's term ends in November 2017. He reiterated to Tax Analysts that he plans to finish his term but would step aside if the incoming president requested him to do so.

"I have not considered resigning," he said. "I've made it clear, particularly to the employees who care a lot about this, that I am committed to finishing out my term, which, as you know, ends next November. Although as I also made it clear, I serve at the pleasure of the president. And the president-elect will make whatever decisions he thinks are best going forward."

He added that he thinks the IRS functions better when it is led by a commissioner rather than by an interim commissioner.

Koskinen said he spoke with members of Trump's "transition team for Treasury" last week for about 20 minutes, and other top IRS officials had discussion with the transition representatives for about two hours afterward.

One topic the transition team asked about was whether more investment in information technology would allow the IRS to be more efficient and have a smaller staff, he said.

Koskinen said that the IRS is working to improve its IT and online offerings to taxpayers, saying it’s necessary to do so given that the IRS has 17,000 fewer employees than it did in 2010.

However, he said that improving IT and online services "wouldn't allow us to provide better service with the same people we have now or even fewer."

"I always have made it clear, we're not going to hire back 17,000 people; that's not our goal," he said. "But even with efficiencies, we probably need more people than we have."   

Koskinen first met Trump in the 1970s, when they worked on opposite sides of a deal for Penn Central to sell a hotel to Trump. He recalls Trump being “irrepressible but energetic, hardworking.”

Koskinen said he’s kept in occasional contact with Trump since then, and Trump had called to congratulate him when he was nominated to the IRS post.