Finance

Treasury announces appointment of new IRS watchdog

The Treasury Department and IRS on Thursday announced the appointment of a new permanent national taxpayer advocate, naming a longtime tax professional to a key IRS watchdog position.

Treasury and the IRS announced the appointment of Erin Collins, whose background includes 20 years at the accounting firm KPMG and 15 years as an attorney in the IRS chief counsel's office.

"I will work every day to be a strong and effective representative of American taxpayers," Collins said in a news release.

The national taxpayer advocate leads the Taxpayer Advocate Service, an independent organization within the IRS that helps taxpayers resolve problems with the agency. The taxpayer advocate also makes recommendations to Congress about how to improve the IRS.

Collins will succeed Nina Olson, who retired last summer after 18 years as National Taxpayer Advocate. Olson was widely respected by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and regularly testified before Congress. Since August, the position had been filled on an acting basis.

Collins's appointment comes as stakeholders were eager to see the appointment of a permanent national taxpayer advocate. Earlier this year, top Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee had pressed the Trump administration to promptly fill the position on a permanent basis, noting that this year was the first tax filing season in nearly two decades that began with only an acting person in the role.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin praised Collins's qualifications.

"She has a wealth of experience representing a broad range of taxpayers before the IRS. She also developed valuable expertise during her years with the Office of Chief Counsel," Mnuchin said. "Erin is the ideal candidate to help the IRS modernize and improve service for American families and businesses."

IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said he looks forward to working with Collins "to improve the IRS for the benefit of all Americans," adding that he thinks she "will serve our nation with distinction."

Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said he's looking forward to getting to know Collins, and that, given Collins's background working at a large accounting firm, he would "particularly like to discuss her priorities for improving IRS customer service for working folks."

-Updated at 3:19 p.m.

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