Will Lois Lerner Get a Gold Watch?

By Ken Berry
 
And another one bites the dust.
 
The IRS announced September 24 that Lois Lerner, the embattled head of the IRS Exempt Organizations (EO) division, has officially retired. The retirement is effective immediately.
 
Previously, other top IRS officials, including IRS Acting Commissioner Steven Miller, have stepped down from their posts. Miller's replacement, Daniel Werfel, will also be leaving. President Obama has nominated John Koskinen to be the new commissioner while Werfel remains in charge temporarily.
 
The low-profile Lerner found herself at the forefront of the "Tea Party scandal" that has engulfed the IRS in recent months. Back in May, the IRS was accused of targeting conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status for extra scrutiny. As congressional committees began to investigate matters and the Justice Department launched a criminal probe, the IRS admitted wrongdoing within the EO division, although it's not clear yet how far up the ladder the blame goes.
 
When Lerner appeared at a hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on May 22, she refused to fall on her sword. Instead, she invoked her Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination, after delivering an opening statement in her defense. That didn't sit well with the Republican leaders on the committee.
 

Tea Party Scandal

Follow AccountingWEB's coverage of the Tea Party scandal here.

"I have not done anything wrong. I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations," Lerner asserted at the time. "I know that some people will assume that I have done something wrong. I have not." Subsequently, she was also accused of using her personal e-mail account for official government business.
 
Lerner was promptly placed on paid administrative leave after the hearing. The scuttlebutt in Washington was that an IRS board had been convened to address her dismissal. Presumably, she will be entitled to her full pension benefits by retiring. 
 
In the meantime, the saga continues. "Just because Lois Lerner is retiring from the IRS does not mean the investigation is over," said Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, in a prepared statement. "Far from it. In fact, there are many serious unanswered questions that must be addressed so we can get to the truth."
 
As of yet, there has been no official comment from Lerner's camp concerning her departure. The IRS said it wouldn't elaborate any further due to federal privacy laws.
 
Related articles:
 

You may like these other stories...

School tax breaks get House support as Democrats objectRichard Rubin of Bloomberg reported that the House of Representatives on Thursday voted to expand and simplify tax breaks for education as Republicans continue to pass...
Many senior US tax professionals believe that a streamlined audit process will be the top benefit resulting from the IRS Transfer Pricing Audit Roadmap, a new toolkit organized around a notional 24-month audit timeline,...
Tax accounting to be simplified for money-market fundsThe US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted 3-2 on Wednesday for sweeping changes to institutional money-market funds, Emily Chasan, senior editor of...

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Jul 31
In this session Excel expert David Ringstrom helps beginners get up to speed in Microsoft Excel. However, even experienced Excel users will learn some new tricks, particularly when David discusses under-utilized aspects of Excel.
Aug 5
This webcast will focus on accounting and disclosure policies for various types of consolidations and business combinations.
Aug 20
In this session we'll review best practices for how to generate interest in your firm’s services.
Aug 21
Meet budgets and client expectations using project management skills geared toward the unique challenges faced by CPAs. Kristen Rampe will share how knowing the keys to structuring and executing a successful project can make the difference between success and repeated failures.