The newly appointed acting head of the Internal Revenue Service said Monday that the agency does not need more money to carry out the responsibility of processing applications for tax-exempt status, despite calls during the hearing for increased funding to help the embattled agency's workload.
“The solution here is not more money,” IRS acting Commissioner Daniel Werfel told lawmakers during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing, his first public appearance before lawmakers since being named acting commissioner last week. “If you start with more money, that’s the wrong starting point.”
Werfel is the latest IRS official to testify before a congressional panel after a Treasury Department inspector general audit detailed how the agency targeted conservative groups seeking nonprofit status between 2010-2012. Former IRS acting Commissioner Steven Miller, former Commissioner Douglas Shulman and Lois Lerner, the director of the tax-exempt organizations division, testified in three previous hearings over the past two weeks, although Lerner refused to answer questions from lawmakers.
Seated next to Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George, Werfel appeared humble and conciliatory during his testimony before the bipartisan committee. He vowed to fix problems within the agency and conceded that the IRS had "betrayed" the nation's trust.
“I’m hopeful by the end of this hearing today, through the various questions that you ask, that I can lay out our approach," Werfel said in response to a question from Florida Republican Rep. Ander Crenshaw, the subcommittee chairman.
Still lingering are questions about who gave the order to place conservative groups on a "Be on the Lookout List." When pressed by Georgia Republican Rep. Tom Graves, who was one of the first lawmakers to ask IRS officials about the agency's practices last year, George said that while he was conducting the audit, IRS agents had declined to name who was responsible.
Werfel vowed that under his watch, the IRS would find out who was responsible for the agency's practices.
“We have to get to the bottom of that,” he said. “We will uncover every fact.”