IRS announces several key executive changes as agency gears up to implement the Taxpayer First Act


IR-2021-80, April 8, 2021

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today announced several key leadership appointments as work continues implementing major provisions of the Taxpayer First Act.

Douglas O'Donnell will serve as the new IRS Deputy Commissioner, Services and Enforcement. Among other leadership changes, Sunita Lough will be returning to serve as the IRS Commissioner of the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division (TE/GE).

These leadership changes are part of a larger effort underway at the IRS to continue work on the Taxpayer First Act, which includes work to reimagine the agency's tax administration and work to improve taxpayer service and enforcement.

"I am proud of the dedicated and nimble leadership of the IRS, along with all the employees," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "As we emerge from the pandemic, our strong leadership team is making some changes to take on the important challenges ahead. Taxpayers need to see the IRS renewing the fight each day for the highest possible service and tax compliance."

Sunita Lough has served as the IRS Deputy Commissioner, Services and Enforcement, since September 2019. She is returning to her prior position as Commissioner of TE/GE , a role she previously held from 2014 to 2019.

"I am eternally grateful to Sunita for her experience, steady leadership and support during the pandemic, which tested every aspect of the IRS, and I am proud to say we have come through the crisis so far with high marks," Rettig said. "Most of her time as deputy commissioner was during the pandemic, and she has overcome every challenge."

Lough has worked for the IRS for nearly 27 years, holding many key leadership roles. She served as the Executive Project Lead for the Tax Reform Implementation Office, effectively spearheading the successful delivery and implementation of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the biggest tax reform legislation in 30 years.

"Helping to lead this agency during the pandemic has been one of the most gratifying things I've done during my career, and I am very grateful to everyone at the IRS," Lough said. "I'm excited to return to TE/GE as we work to assure our commitment to strengthening the oversight and services within the TE/GE community. I also look forward to assisting and supporting the new Deputy Commissioner, Services and Enforcement."

O'Donnell has been the Commissioner of the Large Business and International Division of the IRS (LB&I) since 2015, where he also served as the U.S. Competent Authority.

"Having long worked closely with Sunita, I'm looking forward to taking on the broader role as Deputy Commissioner," O'Donnell said. "We have an exceptionally strong IRS leadership team, and I am hopeful we can continue our efforts to earn the trust and respect of every American. Our employees have worked hard during the unprecedented pandemic to assist the people of our country and, rest assured, we will continue to do so."

O'Donnell began his career at the IRS as a revenue agent in 1986. Since then, he has held several key positions. He received the Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Executive in 2010.

Nikole Flax will take over as Commissioner of LB&I after serving as Deputy Commissioner of the division since 2017. She has held many key roles at the IRS including IRS Chief of Staff and Assistant Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement, among others.

"I am excited to lead the agency's monumental task of overseeing the most complicated noncompliance tax issues, both domestic and international, and continuing to work with employees and taxpayers to improve tax administration," Flax said.

Holly Paz replaces Flax as Deputy Commissioner of LB&I. She is leaving her current role at LB&I as the Director of the Pass-Through Entities Practice Area, which supports all of LB&I with S Corporation and Partnership Specialty teams and the Ogden TEFRA Unit. She has held other key roles at the IRS including serving as the Director of Corporate Issues and Credits in LB&I's Enterprise Activities Practice Area, among others.

Edward Killen has been serving as Acting Commissioner of TE/GE and will return to the role of Deputy Commissioner of TE/GE. Prior to joining TE/GE, Killen has held several leadership positions including the IRS Chief Privacy Officer and Senior Advisor to the IRS Deputy Commissioner of Operations Support, among others.

"These are all exemplary leaders, who have a demonstrated ability to work together, communicate effectively inside and outside the IRS as well as organize cross-functional teams to take on our biggest compliance challenges," Rettig added.