John Koskinen, President Obama’s nominee for Commissioner of the IRS, testified today before the Senate Finance Commitee at a hearing on his nomination. As part of his testimony, Koskinen laid out his plans to “make the IRS the most effective, well-run, and admired agency in government.” His comments were in large part, a recognition of IRS funding troubles, staffing shortages, and the loss of the public’s trust. Seemingly eager to meet these challenges, Koskinen said that if nominated, he would turn the agency around by regaining the public trust and improving employee morale. He added that “the realistic goal is to find problems quickly, fix them promptly, make sure they stay fixed, and be transparent about the entire process.” To accomplish this goal, Koskinen said that it is important to listen to the front line employees and also others who are likley to know about the challenges the agecy faces. Koskinen added that “[T]he IRS benefits from the information and perspective generated by the Office of the Taxpayer Advocate and the Whistleblower Office.”
Koskinen’s mention of the Whistleblower Office at the hearing and acknowledgement of the value it adds to the IRS bodes well for IRS whistleblowers going forward. Perhaps Koskinen is acting on Senator Grassley’s letter, requesting him to embrace the IRS Whistleblower program. In any case, Koskinen is expected to be confirmed as the next head of the IRS, and his view of the Whistleblower Office as an asset to the IRS is good news for tax whistleblowers.