President-elect Donald Trump will soon be able to appoint a new director of the agency auditing his taxes, a potential political minefield after his writeoffs and his refusal to release his returns were repeatedly questioned in the campaign.
The president is barred from directing how the IRS treats specific taxpayers, but lawyers say there’s nothing to stop Trump from appointing an IRS chief who will go easy on him while scrutinizing his political enemies.
“There is precious little statutorily that prohibits that,” said Caplin & Drysdale tax lawyer Chris Rizek, who served in the Treasury Department’s Office of Legislative Counsel under former president Clinton.
. . .
“Legally, the fact that he’s been elected president has no bearing on the rules,” Rizek said. “But as a practical matter, the agents, the commissioners of the different divisions, the field officers, work for the commissioner, and it’s going to be pretty likely that that audit is going to get higher level review before they make adjustments.”
. . .
“It is not at all uncommon for people to clamor for IRS or DOJ activity or criminal investigation, and the IRS kind of takes the position that they ignore that political pressure. I have not heard of any instance since 1973 of anyone at the White House calling anyone at the IRS to ask for an audit or put pressure on a taxpayer,” Rizek said. “Because if that got out it would be a pretty outrageous news story.”
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Excerpt taken from the article “Trump Gets to Pick His Own Auditor” by Katy O’Donnell for POLITICO.