Larry Gibbs Comments on Nomination of John Koskinen for IRS Commissioner in BNA Daily Report for Executives

"Obama to Nominate Koskinen to Run IRS; Tax Community Reactions Mixed"
BNA's Daily Report for Executives

In this article, Larry Gibbs comments on President Obama's nomination of John Koskinen to be the next Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Koskinen does not have a tax background, but would bring significant business and public service experience to the position. According to Gibbs, who served as IRS Commissioner from 1986 - 1989, Koskinen's background bodes well for his ability to help IRS restructure and improve its functions. "Every time a new commissioner comes into office, he or she brings ideas about reforming the Internal Revenue Service; that's been true for the last 30 years," Gibbs said.

The problem, he said, is that the challenges that face the IRS are not that simple. "It is a large, complex organization, and each of its functions are very challenging," he said. "Getting a handle on understanding and doing something about the challenges it faces, as complex, sophisticated, and difficult as they are, is something that will require a lot of time, effort, patience, and persistence," Gibbs said.

Recalling his own time as Commissioner, Gibbs said he benefitted from the full support of both parties to help bring the IRS out of a crisis stage over delayed tax refunds after technological failures. "That time … was a real challenge to our tax system and the politicians realized just how important it was because of what happened to their constituents when the system didn't work when it should," he commented.

"From looking at the new commissioner's background, it appears to me that he's seen this kind of situation before, it's going to require putting together teams to deal with the complexities and the challenges across the organization," Gibbs explained. The big question for Koskinen's future at IRS will be whether members of Congress realize how important the tax system is, and whether they will support Koskinen and the Service to rebuild the trust and confidence of taxpayers, he said.

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