Republican tax-writers urge Trump to fire IRS chief

Republican tax-writers urge Trump to fire IRS chief
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Fifteen Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday urged President Trump to fire IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

"In order for the IRS to fully reap the benefits of new leadership and regain the trust of the American people, the Committee believes that we must have a new Commissioner appointed as soon as possible," the lawmakers wrote in a letter to the president.

The Ways and Means Committee's jurisdiction includes taxes, and the lawmakers that signed the letter included committee Chairman Kevin BradyKevin BradyOvernight Tech: Dem wants to see FCC chief's net neutrality plans | New agency panel on telecom diversity | Trump calls NASA astronaut Overnight Finance: Tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber | Trump eyes 15 percent corporate tax rate | Border wall funding fight | Deal on vote for trade pick Trump team to meet with congressional leaders on tax reform MORE (R-Texas) and tax-policy subcommittee Chairman Peter Roskam (R-Ill.). There are 24 Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee.

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The call for Koskinen's removal from his position comes less than two weeks before the April 18 tax-filing deadline. The commissioner is slated to testify about the tax-filing season before the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday, but he is not scheduled to appear before the Ways and Means panel.

Koskinen was appointed by former President Barack ObamaBarack Obama21 state AGs denounce DeVos for ending student loan reform Obama to net 0K for Wall Street speech: report Trump’s wall jams GOP in shutdown talks MORE in 2013, and his term is set to expire in November. He has said in the past that he would leave the job sooner if he was requested to do so by the president.

Republicans have been very critical of Koskinen, arguing that he hindered congressional investigations into the IRS's handling of conservative groups' applications for tax-exempt status. 

"Not only was key evidence relevant to this Committee’s investigation destroyed under his watch, but he also misled Congress in the process, intentionally degraded customer service at the agency, and has since lost the trust of the American people," the Ways and Means Republicans said. "We believe that trust cannot be fully restored under Commissioner Koskinen’s leadership."

The lawmakers criticized Koskinen for moving funds that are traditionally used for customer service to other purposes in 2015.

"Despite significant needs for serving taxpayers, the IRS continued to waste money and prioritized spending in other areas including implementing the Affordable Care Act, paying employees for unofficial union time, and paying bonuses to employees (including those with known misconduct issues)," the Republican lawmakers said. "The American people deserve better than a Commissioner who vows to 'do less' to serve the taxpayers to whom he is ultimately accountable."

Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee and Trump have both made tax reform one of their big goals. The lawmakers said it would be good to have new leadership at the IRS as the country transitions to a new tax code and restructured IRS. 

"We look forward to working with your Administration to create a tax code that is fair and an IRS that is service-oriented," they said.

The letter from the Ways and Means Republicans is not the first that GOP lawmakers have sent Trump calling for Koskinen's dismissal. Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker (R-N.C.) and more than 50 other lawmakers sent Trump a letter on this topic shortly after the president's inauguration. The White House had not responded to that letter as of Friday.

Koskinen has said that the IRS did not intentionally destroy evidence during investigations into the political-targeting scandal and that he testified truthfully under oath.

At the National Press Club on Wednesday, Koskinen said he has a few more months on his term and wants the Trump administration to start searching for his successor as soon as possible so that person can be confirmed by the time his term expires.

"An organization runs better with a permanent head in place," he said.