The IRS released two documents today on their website, Commissioner Koskinen Statement regarding Whistleblower Program and Deputy Commissioner for Service and Enforcement Memorandum.
The Commissioner’s statement reaffirmed his commitment and support of the IRS Whistleblower Program. The Commissioner says that he is “committed to expanding the program’s reach and improving communications with existing and potential whistleblowers.” I sincerely hope that he follows through with this commitment in real and concrete ways. One way that the Commissioner could improve the program would be to give whistleblower cases priority for audit. In making cases where a whistleblower has provided information to the IRS a priority for audit will ensure that more of the information provided by whistleblowers is used by the IRS, which will in turn lead to more collected proceeds and more awards. After all the way to promote the IRS Whistleblower Program is to pay awards.
The Commissioner went on to mention that to the extent that statutory changes are necessary to improve the program, he intends to work with Congress to ensure that the changes are enacted. While the Final Regulations highlighted a number of places where statutory changes could improve the way section 7623 is implemented, the most pressing statutory change should be the addition of anti-retaliation provisions in the statute. The addition of anti-retaliation provisions would bring section 7623 in line with the other Federal whistleblower provisions.
The Deputy Commissioner for Service and Enforcement Memorandum is largely an update of the Steven Miller Memorandum, published on June 20, 2012. The update of this memorandum after two years was necessary. The memorandum outlines highlights some of the administrative changes that have been implemented in the last two years and incorporates some of the preamble of the final regulations. These changes do not always make their way into other guidance, so it is nice to have this memorandum updated to reflect the current operations of the IRS Whistleblower Program. The Memorandum also reaffirms the guidelines how long certain parts of the administrative process should take and adds:
The Office of Chief Counsel has established controls and reporting requirements for its risk analysis opinions. BPR reports should include data on cases for which a risk analysis has been requested but not received for more than 30 days. Chief Counsel has concurred in making this area a priority.
The inclusion of the new guideline should ensure that the Office of Chief Counsel is making its determinations is a timely manner to ensure that the information can be passed along to the field before the information becomes stale.
While these two documents will not have as large of an impact in shaping the IRS Whistleblower Program as the Regulations will, these documents do show that the IRS is committed to improving the IRS Whistleblower Program.