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Danny Werfel

Werfel is playing the long game

IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel’s mission isn’t an easy one. Werfel is selling a vision of a bigger, modernized IRS in the face of a partisan Hill fight that could reshape its trajectory.

Werfel made his case for IRS funding in a speech and Q&A on Monday night marking his one-year anniversary leading the agency.

“New funds are catalyzing a new era for the IRS,” Werfel said.

What a year it’s been for Werfel. The long-term funding from Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act is being cut back to placate congressional Republicans who love to rail against the funding.

Werfel was adamant that the remaining $60 billion is a good investment, and that he’s using it to propel the IRS forward. In his speech, Werfel presented a vision of a modernized, more digital IRS that can better provide taxpayer assistance, scrutinize high-income taxpayers more likely to be dodging taxes and implement tax laws fairly.

For one, Werfel said the agency will use funding to make sure taxpayers can do everything they need to tax-wise digitally, if they choose.

And on his own future? Werfel enjoyed a relatively smooth Senate confirmation last year. But given the sharp divide on IRS funding and Werfel’s role shaping how it’s spent, we checked in on what his plans would be if Donald Trump wins the presidency in November.

The IRS commissioner doesn’t sound like he’s going anywhere. Here’s Werfel:

Werfel added that he tries not to think about politics or who sits in the White House, instead focusing on his “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to transform the IRS.

Some of the IRS funding is bipartisan, to be clear. Updating technology and expanding taxpayer services are generally harmonious topics for lawmakers. But the November elections could determine a lot given how divisive the IRS enforcement funding is around Capitol Hill. This makes up the bulk of the IRA funds.

Werfel also told reporters after the speech that with IRA funding, the agency is creating a “new baseline” of the size and scale of its workforce, technology, data security and AI expertise. The Biden administration wants to keep the dollars flowing when the $60 billion left of IRA money winds down, a proposal that Republicans panned.

— Laura Weiss

Presented by The Coalition to Project American Jobs

It’s taking the IRS years to process a small business tax credit. 1M+ small business owners who filed for the Employee Retention Credit are stuck in backlog or waiting on payment for their claims. Tell the IRS to lift the moratorium now.

Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.