US IRS hires ex-H&R Block CEO Ernst for a top role

NEW YORK, Jan 26 (Reuters) - The Internal Revenue Service said on Monday it hired former H&R Block Inc Chief Executive Mark Ernst as the agency's deputy commissioner for operations support.

Ernst will report to IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, and oversee operational and administrative functions including technology, human resources, facilities, data security and finance. He will work closely with Shulman and Linda Stiff, the deputy commissioner for services and enforcement.

Most recently, Ernst was chief executive of Bellevue Capital LLC, a private investment firm specializing in early stage and specialty finance businesses.

Ernst became chief executive of H&R Block, the largest U.S. tax preparer, in January 2001, and added the chairman's role in September 2002. He was ousted from both positions in November 2007 after a drive led by activist investor Richard Breeden, a former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission chairman and now H&R Block's chairman.

Breeden had argued that Kansas City, Missouri-based H&R Block had strayed too far from its tax preparation roots by expanding into such areas as banking and subprime mortgages.

Ernst has a bachelor's degree in accounting and finance from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and a graduate business degree from the University of Chicago.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Tim Dobbyn) Keywords: IRS/HRBLOCK ERNST

(jon.stempel@thomsonreuters.com +1 646 223 6317; Reuters Messaging: jon.stempel.reuters.com@reuters.net)

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