President Donald Trump announced Thursday his intention to designate Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Tax Policy David Kautter as acting commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service.

Kautter formerly worked for the accounting firms RSM US and Ernst & Young and was confirmed for his position at the Treasury Department in August (see RSM’s Kautter confirmed in Treasury tax post). He will succeed John Koskinen when Koskinen’s term ends on November 12. The designation will take effect on November 13.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin issued a statement praising Kautter. “I look forward to having David Kautter as acting commissioner of the IRS. David will provide important leadership while we wait to confirm a permanent commissioner,” said Mnuchin. “Assistant Secretary Kautter has had an illustrious 40-year career in tax policy, and I am confident that the IRS and the American people will benefit from his experience and insight.”

David Kautter, nominee for Assistant Treasury Secretary for Tax Policy
Assistant Treasury Secretary for Tax Policy David Kautter

Until he joined the Trump administration, Kautter was partner-in-charge of the Washington National Tax practice of RSM US. Prior to joining RSM in 2014, Kautter served as managing director of the Kogod Tax Center and executive-in-residence at the Kogod School of Business at American University. Before that, he spent more than 30 years at Big Four firm Ernst & Young, where he served as director of national tax for more than 13 years. He also worked on Capitol Hill as tax legislative counsel.

Koskinen was asked during a press conference last week about who his successor might be (see IRS plans further steps to curb identity theft), and pointed out that it would need to be someone who has been vetted for a security clearance.

“While there were some issues about how long I was going to survive I always maintained starting last December the real question was finding enough time to get them through the review process and the confirmation process,” said Koskinen. “I’ve talked on numerous occasions with Secretary Mnuchin, who I know cares greatly about this and has been working on this, there is a real focus by the administration on finding a successor. It takes about six weeks of background checks and security checks for you to get a Top Secret security clearance and have your taxes audited, so it is very possible that someone is already in that process. You can’t announce them until they’ve finished all of that.”

Kautter was vetted before being confirmed as assistant Treasury secretary by the Senate, and so should have the necessary security clearances. He will continue to carry out his duties as assistant Treasury secretary while serving as acting commissioner. Deputy Commissioners Kirsten Wielobob and Jeff Tribiano will continue serving in their current roles at the IRS while reporting to Kautter when he steps in to serve as acting commissioner after Commissioner Koskinen finishes serving the rest of his term.

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Michael Cohn

Michael Cohn

Michael Cohn, editor-in-chief of AccountingToday.com, has been covering business and technology for a variety of publications since 1985.