IRS commissioner leaving for American Red Cross

A day after the tax-filing deadline, Mark Everson, the Internal Revenue Service's commissioner, announced that he will leave the agency to lead the American Red Cross.

The American Red Cross board of governors has unanimously approved Everson as its president and chief executive officer. He will start May 29, according to a press release the organization issued today.

“It is an honor and a privilege to become part of such a vital and enduring humanitarian service organization,” Everson said in the release.

In a separate, personal message sent to IRS employees, Everson wrote that in his four years as commissioner, he has helped rebalance the IRS and restore credibility to its enforcement programs while continuing to improve taxpayer service, such as electronic tax filing. According to IRS statistics, taxpayers continued to file their tax returns electronically at a record pace, up almost 6 percent from the same period last year.

“The agency is poised to continue progress on a variety of fronts,” Everson wrote.

The Senate confirmed Everson as commissioner May 1, 2003, after a major turning point for the agency. The previous commissioner, Charles Rossotti, reorganized the agency after the passage of the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998. Everson succeeded Rossotti as agency chief to continue to improve the IRS.

Everson developed a five-year strategic plan for the $10 billion agency, which connected the IRS’ revamped vision with measurable results.

“This has been no small feat, and I thank all of you for doing your part to restore credibility to our enforcement programs while continuing to improve taxpayer service over this period,” Everson wrote to the employees. “We have also made significant strides in modernizing the IRS.”

“Commissioner Everson was a vigorous advocate of a visible and effective enforcement program and greater integrity,” Paul Jones, chairman of the IRS Oversight Board, said in a statement. “The IRS’ Business Systems Modernization efforts improved steadily under his leadership. His tenure was also marked by progress on all of the IRS’ strategic goals."

“Mark Everson gets good marks for his leadership in reforming the tax-exempt community,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee. “He’ll be good at holding the Red Cross accountable for its tax exemption.”

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