2015 Annual Report on the IRS Whistleblower Program is Expected Sooner than Later.

 When Congress authorized the new IRS Whistleblower Program in December 2006, it required annual reporting to Congress about how the new whistleblower provisions were being used, the results obtained, and any recommendations to be implemented to improve the program.  This was essentially a report card by the Whistleblower Office that informed the world what it had accomplished and the direction it was moving.  This was also Congress’ way of evaluating how the most powerful tool for tax enforcement that Congress could have given the IRS was being used.

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IRS Whistleblower Program: Changing of the Guard

Effective August 3, 2015, Director of the IRS Whistleblower Office, Stephen Whitlock, was replaced by Lee Martin from the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility.  Although Mr.  Martin is neither a lawyer nor an accountant, he was selected by Deputy Commissioner John Dalrymple, perhaps in an effort to bring (good) change the IRS Whistleblower program.

In February 2007, Director Stephen Whitlock was given the responsibility to establish the IRS Whistleblower Office.  His accomplishments include centralizing the whistleblower program in Washington DC, where whistleblower claims are now being reviewed and paid in a consistent and objective manner.  Current claims are no longer being lost in the system as they were before the enactment of I.R.C. § 7623(b).  Mr. Whitlock can be credited with a great many accomplishments including establishing a qualified team consisting of 43 personnel as of September 30, 2014.  Many of the whistleblower analysts in this office process and monitor whistleblower claims and often act as whistleblower advocates fighting on behalf of the whistleblowers.  Mr. Whitlock has been responsible for providing on going guidance to IRS personnel as well as whistleblowers and practioners.  The Internal Revenue Manual and Treasury Regulations have been updated under his reign.  Mr. Whitlock has put a good team together and will be missed within the IRS as well as from the IRS whistleblower attorneys for whom he gave so much guidance.

Although lacking a tax background, Director Martin is known for his organizational skills and for being an independent thinker.  He brings his ethics background to the Whistleblower Office from his time with the Office of Professional Responsibility.  In addition, Mr. Martin has significant experience with Information Technology which could be utilized to better organize the flow of information within the IRS Whistleblower Office.  As time will tell, Mr. Martin will begin the next chapter of making the IRS whistleblower program even more successful as it is quickly being recognized as the most powerful tools ever given to the IRS by Congress for the enforcement of the Internal Revenue Code. 

Director Martin likely will be facing similar oppositions from within the IRS that has been plaguing the program since the program started.  There seems to be ongoing resistance by Counsel as well as IRS executives to promote the program.  Many within the IRS continue to interpret the law narrowly resulting in the lack of communications with the Whistleblower, delaying payment of awards as well as diminishing and or eliminating awards altogether.  We hope that the new Director will only build on the program for which he took over and garner the support of the Commissioner and Secretary of Treasury. 

The Tax Whistleblower Law Firm (TWLF) has the deepest respect for Director Whitlock and wishes the best of luck to him in his new position as well as thanks him for his past leadership.