Porker of the Month: IRS Commissioner John Koskinen | Citizens Against Government Waste

Porker of the Month: IRS Commissioner John Koskinen

Porker of the Month


(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) named Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner John Koskinen its August Porker of the Month for his long litany of incompetence and obstruction as head of the reviled agency. 

Commissioner Koskinen’s resumé includes five years as the non-executive Chairman of Freddie Mac and Chair of the President’s Council on Year 2000 Conversion, which was tasked with saving America from Y2K.  He was confirmed as commissioner on December 20, 2013, shortly after the exposure of the Lois Lerner political targeting scandal.  At the time, expectations for both the agency and his performance were quite low.  But he has repeatedly found ways to stoop lower. 

During the targeting investigation, Commissioner Koskinen repeatedly stonewalled members of Congress in the search for Lois Lerner’s emails.  According to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), Koskinen’s IRS did not bother performing an in-depth search for the emails.  In the face of a congressional subpoena, the IRS erased backup tapes containing as many as 24,000 emails from Lerner.  Koskinen’s ambivalence to seek the truth may stem from his statement during a March 26, 2014 House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing that he believes the IRS never engaged in targeting in the first place, even though that fact is no longer in dispute.  As stated in a July 23, 2015 Government Accountability Office report, “targeting is indeed possible in the audit process,” and more than two years after the scandal gained national attention, “the IRS has not taken sufficient steps to prevent targeting Americans based on their personal beliefs.” 

Beyond the scandal, the IRS is not able to discharge basic functions with Koskinen at the helm.  IRS officials hung up on 8.8 million Americans who called their help line during the 2014 tax filing season, and local assistance centers did not receive updated paperwork until February 28, 2015, nearly halfway through the filing season. 

The ceaseless refrain from Commissioner Koskinen when criticized is to blame congressional budget cuts for IRS failures.  This response rings hollow in the face of the IRS spending $4.3 million on public opinion polling in 2014 and nearly $4 million on office furniture.  On May 5, 2015, TIGTA investigators found that the IRS issued $5.6 billion in potentially phony education tax credits in 2014 alone.  The growing epidemic of Stolen Identity Refund Fraud allowed $5.8 billion to be paid out to fraudulent filers in 2013.  A TIGTA report on April 14, 2015 found 1,580 IRS employees willfully did not pay taxes, and 18,300 who unintentionally did not pay.  Even worse, 108 of those employees received bonuses totaling nearly $145,000.  Despite all of this evidence that his agency is inept or worse, Commissioner Koskinen refused to allow bonuses in the IRS to be cut from 2014 to 2015.

The last straw came when the The Washington Post reported on August 17, 2015 that a cyber-attack on the agency that occurred earlier this year exposed the tax return information of an estimated 610,000 Americans and was “far more widespread than the Internal Revenue Service first disclosed.” 

CAGW President Tom Schatz said, “Commissioner Koskinen has an extensive and dubious track record of evasive, incompetent, and hostile behavior to taxpayers and their representatives.  I concur with House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) that it is long past time for him to leave and be replaced with an individual who holds taxpayers and their interests in higher esteem.”

For his disastrous tenure as head of the IRS, CAGW names John Koskinen its August Porker of the Month.

Citizens Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.  Porker of the Month is a dubious honor given to lawmakers, government officials, and political candidates who have shown a blatant disregard for the interests of taxpayers.