The IRS released its annual report on its whistleblower program. The amount collected dropped from $1.44 billion in 2018 to $245 million in 2022. Whistleblower awards also dropped to about 10% ($34.5 million) of the amount awarded in 2018.
This precipitous drop has whistleblower advocates claiming that the Treasury and the IRS have lost one of their primary tools for going after significant corporate tax cheats even as other federal whistleblower programs continue to thrive.
Calls for change
According to Siri Nelson, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center: “These results from the IRS whistleblower program are extremely disappointing…. The only people celebrating these low numbers for the IRS whistleblower program are the millionaire and billionaire tax cheats.”
Recommendations for improvement include:
- Better utilizing whistleblower and their advisors
- Expediting significant cases stalled as they await IRS counsel
Others are calling for Congress to pass the IRS Whistleblower Program Improvement Act. In brief, the bill modifications would:
- Revise the standards of review whistleblower awards
- Exempt whistleblower awards from budget requisitioning
- Provide for De Novo Review that enables appeals of award determinations
- Rein in the IRS’s current practice of contesting claims by whistleblowers who wish to remain anonymous
- Pay award within one year of collecting or begin to pay interest.
- Have a uniform scheme for deducting attorney’s fees to align with other federal programs
- Add a top 10 tax avoidance schemes to the annual report.
These changes would benefit tax violation whistleblowers
These changes could go a long way to providing necessary protections for whistleblowers’ rights, confidence that it will be an impartial judicial review, and they will receive rewards similar to other parts of the federal government. Those concerned about making a whistleblower claim can consult with attorneys who specialize in assisting whistleblowers.