Since 2007 the IRS Whistleblower Program has helped recover $3.7 billion back to the U.S. Treasury, but there is still plenty of room for improvement.
Legislation introduced by Senator Grassley and Senator Wyden (S.762, The IRS Whistleblower Improvements Act of 2017,would help improve communication between the IRS and whistleblowers, while protecting taxpayer privacy, and providing employer retaliation protection similar to what is extended to whistleblowers in other programs, such as the False Claims Act.
TAF fully endorses the Grassley-Wyden bill:
“These amendments will significantly strengthen the fraud-fighting potential of the IRS Whistleblower statute and promote the public-private partnerships that the law was originally enacted to foster,” said Robert Patten, President and CEO of Taxpayers Against Fraud. “In particular, the anti-retaliation provisions will encourage more citizens to come forward and will result in the recovery of significant funds that would otherwise be lost to tax fraud.”
Communication between the IRS and whistleblowers has long been a problem. The Grassley-Wyden bill would streamline communication between the Service and whistleblowers by allowing the IRS to communicate with whistleblowers where doing so would be helpful to an investigation. In addition, the bill would require the IRS to provide status updates to whistleblowers at significant points in the review process, while ensuring confidentiality of information is maintained.
Whistleblower cases take, on average, about 7 years to resolve. During this time, individuals may be putting their livelihoods on the line.
According to the IRS Whistleblower Program’s 2016 Annual Report, 1,739 IRS whistleblower submissions of $2 million or more are currently winding their way through review, investigation, evaluation, and litigation. Of these, 520 submissions are past the “appeals” process and are in the Preliminary Award Evaluation, Interim Award Assessment, Award/Suspense, Final Review or Ligation phase of the Whistleblower Office’s program process.