New IRS Commissioner Shulman takes over reins

Douglas H. Shulman, the newly confirmed commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, said he would concentrate both on enforcement and service and work to ensure the tax agency is fair, according to Associated Press reports.

"For the majority of Americans who pay their taxes willingly and on time, there must be clear guidance, accessible education, and outstanding service," Shulman said in a statement released by the IRS. "For taxpayers who intentionally evade paying taxes, there must be rigorous enforcement programs."

Shulman, who President Bush nominated for the job in November and the Senate unanimously confirmed on Friday, will have to focus on distributing checks for the economic-stimulus package and collecting unpaid taxes, said Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT).

"Millions of Americans – including our senior citizens and disabled veterans – are counting on Mr. Shulman to oversee the distribution of economic stimulus checks right and right away," Baucus was quoted as saying in the Dayton Daily News.

Shulman is taking over at a time when the IRS's use of private debt collectors is coming under fire. In The New York Times, the National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson, the government-appointed watchdog of the IRS, called the collection program ineffective and recommended it be cancelled. Olson said the program, which Congress authorized in 2004 as a way to bring in "easy-to-collect tax debts," cost the government at least $81 million a year in revenue, The Times said.

Shulman was vice chairman of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc., the largest non-governmental regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United States. It was previously known as the National Association of Securities Dealers. At the Authority, Shulman had broad responsibility for strategy, services, and operations. He oversaw the organization's technology, registration and disclosure, and industry testing and continuing education, according to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority web site, finra.org.

During the 1990s, Shulman worked as a senior policy advisor and chief of staff for the bipartisan National Commission on Restructuring the IRS. He holds an MPA from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and a JD magna cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center.

He has replaced Mark Everson, who left the IRS last year to take the helm at the American Red Cross but later resigned, according to CQPolitics.com. In January, President Bush signed a bill allowing the next commissioner to serve a term of nearly five years instead of just finishing the remainder of Everson's term.

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