Daniel Werfel has been nominated as the new IRS commissioner following a Senate Finance Committee vote amid fierce debate over the agency’s $80 billion in new funding. The confirmation hearing took place on February 15th, and the committee’s vote was the final step before a full Senate vote on confirmation. Werfel’s February testimony demonstrated he’s a “rule follower” who will work with “both sides of the committee.” As reported by CNBC on March 3, 2023, he previously served as acting controller of the Office of Management and Budget under former President George W. Bush and became the permanent OMB controller and later acting IRS commissioner under former President Barack Obama.
Republicans prioritize oversight over IRS funding. The $80 billion in IRS funding was allocated in August through the Inflation Reduction Act. After months of disapproval, House Republicans voted in January to rescind the funding, but the bill was largely seen as political messaging without support from the Democrat-controlled Senate or the White House. A group of House Republicans revisited the Fair Tax Act in January, but policy experts say the fair tax has never been a mainstream idea.
Meanwhile, according to a report by the Journal of Accountancy on February 17, 2023, the IRS failed to submit a funding plan within the requested six-month deadline, which Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen had requested to prioritize taxpayer service. Some speculate that the delay was intentional. Senator John Cornyn expressed concern about the missed deadline’s impact on public confidence in the IRS.