Trump announces intent to nominate IRS chief counsel

Tax Hot Topics newsletter President Trump on March 2 announced his intent to nominate Michael Desmond as chief counsel of the IRS.

Desmond is currently a solo practitioner in California and focuses on tax controversy matters. He served as tax legislative counsel in the Treasury Department from 2005 to 2008, and he has been a partner in a large law firm.

Trump’s decision to nominate Desmond rounds out the Treasury and IRS tax-related positions requiring a Senate confirmation. In August of 2017, the Senate confirmed David Kautter to be Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Tax Policy. After then-IRS Commissioner John Koskinen’s term concluded in the fall, Kautter also became the acting IRS Commissioner. In February, Trump nominated California tax litigator Chuck Rettig to be Commissioner.

The position of IRS Chief Counsel is critical to the promulgation of regulatory guidance, as well as in guiding the IRS in tax litigation. The previous chief counsel, William J. Wilkins, left the post in 2017 after the end of the Obama administration. Since then, the IRS has been with an acting chief counsel.

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