New IRS chief sworn in

New IRS chief sworn in
© Greg Nash

President TrumpDonald John TrumpZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Trump leaning toward keeping a couple hundred troops in eastern Syria: report Warren says making Israel aid conditional on settlement building is 'on the table' MORE’s pick to lead the IRS was sworn in Monday, officially taking the reins of an agency that faces a host of challenges.

New IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, a tax lawyer from California, was sworn in by Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinTop economic adviser warned Trump on reelection chances ahead of China truce: report The Hill's Morning Report - Tempers boil over at the White House Schumer seeks focus on health care amid impeachment fever MORE.

"I am honored, privileged and most humbled by the opportunity to serve with you as Commissioner," Rettig said in an internal message to IRS employees. "The foundation of my becoming Commissioner is a deep appreciation for the IRS, its workforce and our country."

The swearing in comes after the Senate last month confirmed Rettig by a vote of 64-33. While 15 Democrats voted to confirm Rettig, most Senate Democrats voted against his nomination because they dislike recent IRS guidance items.

Rettig was confirmed to the remainder of a five-year term expiring in November 2022. Obama appointee John Koskinen left the IRS when his term expired in November 2017, and David Kautter, an assistant secretary in the Treasury Department, has served as acting IRS commissioner for most of the past year.

Rettig will have a lot on his to-do list. The IRS is currently working to implement the tax-cut law Trump signed last year, and is preparing for the first filing season under the new code. The agency also is dealing with budget constraints, outdated technology and threats from criminals seeking to steal taxpayers’ identities.

In his message to agency employees, Rettig stressed the need for the IRS to provide good customer service to taxpayers even as it deals with its challenges.

"I know the Service has many challenges; I've seen them firsthand through the years and I know those are sources of frustration for taxpayers and for you as IRS employees," he wrote. "I also know we must continue rebuilding trust with taxpayers while implementing the once-in-a-generation tax reform bill passed by Congress in December. We must work on our IT modernization efforts."

"Throughout this, we cannot lose sight that every day and in every interaction, we need to be thinking about the taxpayer and how to work with them," he continued. "Every interaction with each and every taxpayer and representative is important on both an individual and a global basis. Providing high-quality, personalized service is a critical component in helping taxpayers understand and comply with their filing and reporting obligations."

Mnuchin praised Rettig in a tweet, saying that the new commissioner's "commitment to fairness and taxpayer service will make a tremendous impact in the lives of millions of Americans.”