The Internal Revenue Service must earn the trust of the American people, the tax agency's new leader said on Capitol Hill Monday, as he promised to hold employees accountable for targeting the tax-exempt applications of conservative groups for extra scrutiny.
A recent report by the Treasury Department's Inspector General faulted the IRS for using "inappropriate criteria" to identify groups for further review.
"In my first few days, I have initiated a comprehensive review of the agency," acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said, "and have taken immediate actions to begin to address the significant and alarming problems identified in the report."
Another audit from the inspector general's office, to be released Tuesday, details how the IRS spent nearly $50 million on employee conferences in three years. The list of expenses includes videos with silly themes and dances.
In his first congressional appearance since being named to lead the agency, Werfel told members of the House Appropriations subcommittee that the IRS doesn't need more money to deal with its problems right now. Instead, he said, the agency first needs to develop a detailed plan.
When asked about a possible special prosecutor to investigate the IRS, Werfel said he felt the current inquiries are sufficient.
Here are a few more highlights of Monday's oversight hearing:
- Asked by House Financial Services and General Government subcommittee chairman Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.) if he believes the IRS has betrayed the public's trust, Werfel answered, "I do, Mr. Chairman. I think that's why — thinking about this in terms of my primary mission — is to restore that trust," The Daily Caller reports.
- Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George "said no IRS employees, during his audit, acknowledged who gave the directive to target conservative groups," according to The Washington Post.
- Saying that "it's hard to shock and awe someone who's from Chicago, Illinois about scandals," Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) noted that he's recently seen governors and congressmen sent to jail. "So I get it," he said. "But this is getting there." That's according to The Chicago Sun-Times.
- "We may want to consider putting conditions on your funding that allow us to monitor your agency's compliance with proper practices," House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R., Ky.) said, according to The Wall Street Journal.