IRS Chief Nominee: Curbing Tax Evasion is Priority One

Despite former IRS Chairman Rossotti's report of the agency's failure to go after taxpayers who fail to file a return - or perhaps because of it - Mark Everson, the nominee to head the IRS, has vowed to make curbing tax evasion his top priority.

"Attorneys and accountants should be pillars of our system of taxation, not the architects of its circumvention," Everson told the Senate Finance Committee on March 18. A vote is expected next week on Mr. Everson's nomination for a five-year term as commissioner of the IRS.

If confirmed, Mr. Everson will redirect some of the IRS' budget to aggressively find companies and individual taxpayers who hide behind a curtain of complicated accounting to hide their tax obligations. Additionally, Mr. Everson indicated that he would continue with the reorganization plans and technology improvements started several years ago by Charles Rossotti, the former IRS Commissioner.

Congress has expressed concerns about the IRS' "troubling" record on collecting tax obligations from both corporate and individual taxpayers. According to a report presented to Congress last year, the IRS failed to pursue 75% of taxpayers who fail to file a return. Additionally, 60% of identifiable tax debts are not pursued.

If confirmed, all eyes will be on Mr. Everson to see if he can continue reforming the agency and make it operate more effectively. Closely watching his actions will also be his wife, Nanette Everson, who oversees ethics in the White House counsel's office.

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