New IRS ‘Taxpayer Experience Officer’ Draws Criticism Over High Salary

The IRS has come under fire for appointing a new “taxpayer experience officer,” a role that is paid for by taxpayers and comes with a hefty salary. Fumi Tamaki has been named to the position, replacing her predecessor who earned nearly $200,000 in 2022. This move has sparked debate about the cost and necessity of such a high-paying job within the agency.

OpenTheBooks revealed that Deputy Chief Taxpayer Experience Officer Courtney Kay-Decker made $187,000 last year. When benefits are included, the total cost to taxpayers for this two-person office exceeds $483,000 annually. IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel, whose own salary is $168,000, stated that Tamaki and Kay-Decker will focus on continuous improvements for the tax community.

In 2022, the IRS paid six-figure salaries to 11,846 employees, with some earning as much as $261,400. This resulted in a total payroll expenditure of $4.9 billion. The Taxpayer Experience Office was created to help manage the $80 billion in supplemental funding the IRS received from the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, although this amount was reduced to $58.4 billion by Republicans in March.

The office collaborates with National Taxpayer Advocate Erin Collins, who earns over $203,000. Collins has been effective in identifying issues within the IRS, such as the 22-month average wait time for identity theft victims to receive refunds. However, the actual impact of the office in resolving these problems remains uncertain.

Critics argue that reducing the IRS’s extensive payroll would be a more effective way to improve the taxpayer experience. The high salaries of the agency’s top officials have drawn attention to the overall cost of maintaining such positions, questioning their necessity and impact on efficiency.

Gov. Youngkin recently announced Virginia’s withdrawal from California’s vehicle emission standards, a move praised by many for prioritizing consumer freedom over government mandates. This contrasts sharply with the IRS’s approach, where high-paying roles like the taxpayer experience officer seem to do little to alleviate the frustrations of ordinary taxpayers.

Tamaki and her colleagues face the challenge of proving the value of their roles amid growing public skepticism. As debates over government spending and efficiency continue, the IRS’s management of taxpayer funds remains a hot topic. The agency must balance its internal needs with the responsibility to use taxpayer money wisely and effectively.