Good morning/afternoon, GCers. We hope you had a nice, relaxing Labor Day holiday. Last week, while I was driving to Binny’s Beverage Depot to pick up some Pipeworks Ninja vs. Unicorn IPA to drink over the holiday weekend, I was wondering why things have been quiet lately regarding the confirmation of Charles Rettig as the next IRS commissioner. (Don’t ask me why I think of stupid shit like this while on my way to buy beer). After all, it’s been nearly seven weeks since the Senate Finance Committee sent his nomination to the Senate floor.
Well, lo and behold, Politico has an update on Rettig’s status today:
Senate aides from both parties say they still can’t offer a timeline as to when Rettig might be confirmed, with Democrats also using Rettig’s nomination to lash out at new Treasury and IRS rules limiting blue state workarounds to the tax law’s cap on state and local deductions. And now, a new wrinkle: The Senate Judiciary Committee kicks off hearings today for Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, in the start of a nomination process that could easily consume the Senate for weeks. (Did we mention Congress has to fund the government this month, too?)
The IRS has been without a confirmed IRS commissioner for almost 10 months now, and this upcoming tax season is the first incorporating the new changes to the tax code brought about by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. So, are people at the IRS getting a little itchy about not having a full-time leader, especially with a new tax season right around the corner? Not yet, Politico reported:
A couple close watchers of the agency said it’s probably still too soon to get concerned about the lack of confirmed leadership at the top, with IRS chief counsel nominee Michael Desmond also awaiting full Senate confirmation, and that they still fully believe that Rettig and Desmond will be confirmed. At the same time, they said people in and around the agency would start getting more nervous if senators leave Washington after this month without acting on the IRS nominees, thus almost certainly pushing any potential action until after November’s elections.
Politico offered two reasons why Rettig’s confirmation will eventually be a done deal:
First: Democrats, historically more so than Republicans, have a vested interest in the IRS working as efficiently and as close to full potential as possible. Second: While Democrats are under a lot of pressure to impede Trump nominees, couldn’t this administration’s IRS picks have been much worse from their perspective?
For the most part, Senate Democrats believe Rettig, who has spent the past 35 years as a tax lawyer at Hochman, Salkin, Rettig, Toscher & Perez in Beverly Hills, Calif., is qualified to lead the IRS. But Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee voted against his nomination in July to protest guidance released on July 16 by the Trump administration that limits some tax-exempt groups’ disclosure of donor information to the IRS.
They are concerned that the new rules will make it easier for foreign governments to influence U.S. politics through “dark money” donations.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the panel’s chairman, said Rettig had nothing to do with the policy change and added that no committee member had opposed Rettig up to that point.
In a statement following the Senate Finance Committee’s 14-13 vote on July 19 to advance Rettig’s nomination, Hatch said:
“For the IRS to implement the biggest tax overhaul in a generation, it is essential that the agency is fully staffed and led by a strong, capable commissioner. The job of commissioner is further complicated by years of mistrust and scandals at the agency. Chuck Rettig is the right pick to both implement tax reform and restore trust in the IRS. I am pleased that the committee advanced his nomination, and I look forward to the Senate acting quickly on his nomination so he can get started on the hefty tasks he will be charged with as the agency’s leader.”
Unfortunately for Rettig, the Senate seems to be taking its sweet-ass time on this.