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IRS Commissioner Richardson resigns after four years

January 8, 1997

WASHINGTON (AP) _ After four years as commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, Margaret Milner Richardson is resigning.

In a letter released today, she told Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin that she would remain through the tax-filing season, which ends April 15.

Richardson, 53, has overseen the agency and its more than 100,000 employees since she was sworn in as the 44th IRS commissioner in May 1993. She was an attorney in private practice before that.

``With the president’s second term about to begin, I believe that this is an appropriate time for me to pursue other career opportunities and allow the selection of a successor who could serve during the full second term,″ she wrote in a letter made public by the Treasury Department.

In accepting the resignation, Rubin praised her for her ``tremendous contribution ... toward improving the customer-service orientation of the IRS″ and for her ``courteous and energetic leadership.″

``While many who do not like the tax code often criticize the IRS, I want to reaffirm my respect and appreciation for the difficult task that you and the employees of the IRS perform every day,″ Rubin wrote.

Among her accomplishments, Richardson cited a reorganization of her agency, telephone filing for simpler tax returns, the expansion of taped telephone advice for taxpayers, an IRS Internet site, a crackdown on tax returns fraudulently claiming dependent exemptions and the early implementation of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights enacted in August.

However, her tenure has been marked by increasing criticism of the agency by Congress’ General Accounting Office and others for mismanagement of its multi-billion dollar modernization program.

Congress twice cut the agency’s budget, reducing it from $7.4 billion in 1995 to $7 billion this year. Republican Bob Dole made ``ending the IRS as we know it″ a focus of his presidential campaign.

Critics of the agency have been quieter since the election, but a bipartisan commission headed by Sen. Bob Kerrey, D-Neb., and Rep. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, is exploring ways to improve the agency.

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