On Oct 1, Charles Rettig LLM ’82 was sworn in as the 49th commissioner for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)—the first IRS chief in decades to come from a career in tax law rather than business management.  

Charles RettigRettig joined the IRS from Hochman, Salkin, Rettig, Toscher & Perez in Beverly Hills, California where he was a name partner and had practiced tax law for 35 years. Rettig has represented high-profile corporate and celebrity clients, including CVP Financial Corporation and the Estate of Michael Jackson, before the IRS and state tax agencies. He has served on the IRS Advisory Council and is a member of the National Board of Advisors for the NYU School of Law Graduate Tax Program and the advisory boards of the NYU Institute on Federal Taxation and the California Franchise Tax Board. Rettig also served as vice chair for the American Bar Association's Tax Section and vice president of the American College of Tax Counsel.

In his June 28 confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, Rettig acknowledged the challenges the IRS currently faces, including recent budget cuts and outdated technology. Rettig also said that his breadth of clientele—from corporations and wealthy Americans to small business owners and the low-income taxpayers whom he represented pro bono—has given him an understanding of the tax concerns of Americans across the financial spectrum.

“My overriding goal is to strengthen and rebuild the trust between the IRS and the American people and their representatives in Congress,” Rettig said at the hearing. “That trust is critical to all the IRS does, particularly as it works with the Department of the Treasury to implement the once-in-a-generation tax reform [passed] last year.”

The $1.5 trillion tax bill passed last September and discussed by NYU Law faculty at a recent Latham & Watkins Forum includes short-term individual income tax cuts, long-term corporate tax cuts, estate tax cuts, and pass-through deductions, as well as new caps on the deductibility of state and local taxes. Rettig’s tenure has begun just before the first tax-filing season that implements these new and sweeping changes.

“I have a deep respect for the IRS, for this country, for this flag, for the people who work for the Internal Revenue Service, and respect that the Internal Revenue Service is critical component to the success of this country,” Rettig said at the hearing. “I’m committed to giving my best efforts to make the Internal Revenue Service the best agency that it can be.”

Posted November 19, 2018