updated 2:28 PM CEST, May 24, 2023

Danny Werfel takes his seat as IRS commissioner, succeeding Chuck Rettig

Daniel 'Danny' Werfel, left; right, the IRS building in Washington, DC Daniel 'Danny' Werfel, left; right, the IRS building in Washington, DC

Daniel "Danny" Werfel has at last taken his place as commissioner of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, almost four months to the day after his predecessor, Charles "Chuck" Rettig, completed his four-year term. 

Werfel's nomination was approved by the Senate earlier this month, by a bipartisan 54-42 margin, and becomes the agency's 50th commissioner. He was sworn office yesterday (March 13by IRS deputy commissioner for Services and Enforcement Doug O’Donnell, who has served as acting commissioner since November.

His term is set to run through Nov. 12, 2027, the IRS said in a statement.

Werfel takes charge of the agency at a time when it is preparing to significantly boost its compliance and enforcements efforts, in response to political pressure, and some US$80 billion in additional funding, from the Biden administration.

Prior to taking on his new role at the IRS, Werfel had been a Washington, DC-based managing director and partner of the Boston Consulting Group consultancy, in addition to being a global leader in its Public Sector Practice. He joined the firm in 2014. 

He is also a former acting commissioner of the IRS, who served during a time of organizational upheaval at the agency during the Obama administration.

Before that appointment, he worked for the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, first as deputy controller and then as federal controller.

Werfel holds a bachelor's degree from Cornell University, a JD from the University of North Carolina, and a master's degree in public policy from Duke University.

Message to IRS employees

In a message to IRS employees, Werfel noted that, following the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act last year, "we [at the IRS] have a unique opportunity to make improvements for the IRS and the nation.

"I am excited by this opportunity as well as the chance to work with you again.”

Little is known about Werfel's attitudes with respect to expatriate tax issues, citizenship-based vrs. residence-based taxation, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) or other matters that have been at the top of the expatriate American advocacy agenda for years. 

Last year, his predecessor, former IRS Commissioner Rettig, said he supported the idea of the U.S. "reciprocating"  with respect to the information it currently receives from foreign governments about the overseas bank and financial accounts of U.S. taxpayers – under FATCA, a 2010 U.S. tax evasion-prevention law.

The month before that, he also raised a few eyebrows by noting, in testimony prepared for a Ways and Means subcommittee hearing on IRS matters, that in spite of all the efforts being made by non-U.S. financial institutions to comply with FATCA, the IRS had been struggling to enforce it, owing to the fact that it lacked the resources.