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IRS TE/GE commissioner Ripperda plans to retire

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Tamera Ripperda, the commissioner who runs the Internal Revenue Service’s Tax Exempt and Government Entities division, is retiring on Sept. 30 after 33 years at the IRS.

Ripperda began working at the IRS’s Exempt Organizations unit in 1988 as a revenue agent. She has held executive leadership positions in three of the four services and enforcement business operating divisions at the IRS during her long career.

Prior to being appointed as the TE/GE commissioner, Ripperda oversaw several of the IRS’s high-profile tax administration programs, including director of abusive transactions, industry director of global high wealth, director of exempt organizations, and deputy commissioner of the Small Business/Self-Employed division.

She weathered the storm over the so-called “Tea Party targeting” scandal seven years ago when the IRS’s Exempt Organizations unit was found to be filtering applications for 501(c)4 tax-exempt status from political groups ahead of the 2012 elections by using terms such as “Tea Party,” “Patriot” and “Progressive.” The uproar led to the departure of the former director of Exempt Organizations, Lois Lerner, in 2013, along with IRS acting commissioner Steven T. Miller and several other top officials.

More recently, she managed the staff at the TE/GE division as they were forced to work remotely during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the midst of tax season. Riperda (pictured below) described her experiences during a recent online tax conference, New York University’s Tax Controversy Forum (see story).

“We were able to pivot very easily and quickly to that telework environment because the great majority of our employees are also telework-able,” she said, adding, “Kudos to those managers and the ingenuity that they had and the ambition that they had to keep things going.”

Ripperda won praise Thursday in an email sent out to IRS staff. “During her career, Tammy has been at the forefront of many improvement initiatives for IRS’s tax enforcement functions,” said the email. “Among her proudest achievements was leading the EO program’s innovative transformation in 2014, which resulted in her being recognized by Tax Notes Today as a ‘Tax Person of the Year.’ In 2018, she was recognized as ‘Tax Person of the Year’ for the second time and received the IRS Commissioner’s Award for her outstanding achievements in successfully implementing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Additionally, after previously leading a tiger team that recommended creating a GHW [global high wealth] unit and developing an enterprise approach to examining individuals with global interests, Tammy played a significant role in forming and activating the GHW division within the Large Business and International Division.”

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