Charged with collecting taxes and enforcing tax laws, the Internal Revenue Service is popularly dubbed the “most hated” agency in the U.S. federal pantheon. The agency determines, assesses and collects revenue, including from personal and corporate income taxes, excise, estate and gift taxes, as well as employment taxes for Social Security. The IRS is the largest bureau within the U.S. Department of Treasury - and according to the government, one of the world’s most efficient tax administrators: In 2004 the IRS collected more than $2 trillion in revenue and processed more than 224 million tax returns.
The Internal Revenue Service has its origins during the Civil War, when President Lincoln and Congress created the position of Commissioner of Internal Revenue and enacted an income tax to pay for the war in 1862. The tax was repealed ten years later, revived in 1894, and ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court the next year.
(Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington)
As it prepared for the 2013 tax-filing season, which was complicated by last-minute tax changes arising from the “fiscal cliff” negotiations between Congress and the president, the leadership of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was taken over by a temporary commissioner, albeit one with a quarter-century’s experience at the agency. Every year, IRS’s 100,000 employees collect approximately $2.4 trillion in tax revenue, processing 145 million individual tax returns and issuing $345 billion in tax refunds.
Steven T. Miller became acting commissioner of the IRS on November 9, succeeding Doug Shulman, who served as the 47th commissioner starting March 24, 2008, and announced earlier this year that he would not seek appointment to a second five-year term. The IRS has had 47 different permanent commissioners and 26 different acting commissioners since the agency was created in 1862. On May 15, 2013, Miller was forced to resign in the wake of revelations that the IRS had targeted small, mostly conservative, political groups that had applied for tax-exempt status.
Born circa 1956, Miller earned a B.A. at the University of Maryland, a J.D. at the George Washington University Law School, and an LLM in Taxation from Georgetown University Law School. Admitted to the District of Columbia Bar in December 1982, Miller started his legal career in private practice and then served as a Congressional staffer for the Joint Committee on Taxation until 1987, when he joined the IRS in the Office of Chief Counsel.
Miller has served most of his 25 years at the IRS, an agency in the Treasury Department, in its Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division (TE/GE). Starting as special assistant to the assistant commissioner for Employee Plans and Exempt Organizations, Miller rose to acting assistant commissioner, then director of Exempt Organizations from 1999 to 2004, capping his TE/GE service as commissioner of TE/GE from 2004 to April 2009. From April to September 2009, Miller served as commissioner of the Large Business and Mid-Size Business Division, leaving that post when he was named deputy commissioner for Services and Enforcement.
IRS Commissioner To Step Down Following Presidential Election (by Kelly Phillips Erb, Forbes)
Political Activities by Section 501(c)(4) Organizations (by J. Gerald Hebert and Fred Wertheimer, Democracy 21) (pdf)