And salaries might not be the biggest barrier the IRS has to contend with, said Everson, who’s now vice chair of Alliantgroup, a specialty tax-services provider.

“Not everybody wants to work for the government,” he said. “It’s perceived as bureaucratic — and particularly the IRS. Tax administration has become part of this rough political discourse that we have.”

Everson previously worked with Werfel in the White House Office of Management and Budget, and the two have held some of the same positions over the years, including, now, the post of IRS commissioner. Werfel is “extremely well suited to lead this effort,” Everson said, but added that he’s going to face difficulties on many fronts.

The Inflation Reduction Act passed along party lines in August, at a time when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. Republicans have been wary of how the funding will get used, and some have warned that the extra enforcement efforts will result in more audits for average taxpayers. IRS and Treasury officials insist that audits for households under $400,000 will not increase compared with historical levels.

After the spending plan’s release, Rep. Jason Smith, a Republican from Missouri who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, was not convinced. “This is a punt, not a ‘plan,’ and it raises more questions than answers about how Americans’ tax dollars will be spent to go after working families and small businesses,” he said in a statement.

The IRS will definitely have challenges wooing workers away from the private sector, but those challenges are not insurmountable, said Natasha Sarin, a professor at Yale Law School. In December, Sarin finished work in the Treasury Department as a counselor to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen focused on tax policy and administration.

“A lot of people spend time in government because of a deep sense of purpose and mission that I think the IRS can tap into,” she said. And it’s happening at the start of a new chapter for the agency, she added.

Werfel and the rest of IRS leadership need to find a way to appeal to prospective workers’ hearts as well as their wallets, Sarin said. “The first, second and third priorities are all in the direction of bringing on that expertise.”