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Charles Rettig confirmed as IRS chief

14 September 2018

Josh White

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The US Senate Finance Committee has confirmed California tax attorney Charles Rettig will be the next head of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

As an attorney, Rettig has specialised in tax planning, litigation and controversy. He has 36 years of experience in private practice, serving as principal at Hochman Salkin Rettig Toscher & Perez in Beverly Hills. Rettig will replace acting IRS chief David Kautter, who took office when John Koskinen stepped down in November 2017.

Kautter was EY’s national director for 10 years and later joined RSM US as the firm’s national tax leader. Kautter has overseen the first steps to provide guidance on US tax reform, including the rules on Section 965 and foreign earnings.

The interim period was meant to last for 120 to 190 days, but it has stretched across 11 months since Koskinen stepped down. The first hearing on Rettig's nomination was in June, though the Democrats set out to block his confirmation over concerns that the Trump administration was concealing the identity of their donors.

The decision to appoint Kautter was not uncontroversial at the time either. During Kautter’s tenure as EY’s national director, the Big 4 firm faced a scandal over claims it was running illegal tax shelters for 200 clients. It should be noted that Kautter was never implicated in any wrongdoing.

The confirmation of a new commissioner brings this long transition to a close. Kautter will continue to serve as the US Treasury’s top tax policy adviser.

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