The IRS announced this afternoon that the Acting Director (Office of Professional Responsibility) Lee Martin has been selected to be the next Director of the Whistleblower Office, effective August 3, 2015. Director Stephen Whitlock will remain with the IRS and has been named the new Director of the Office of Professional Responsibility, effective August 3, 2015.  Acting Director Martin brings an ethics background to the Whistleblower Office from his time with the Office of Professional Responsiblity, as well as project and IT operations management experience with the IRS, AT&T, and SBC Interactive – SmartPages.com.  We hope that Acting Director Martin will make paying awards a high priority as this is what will ultimately attract knowledgable insiders to come forward.

We would like to wish Director Whitlock the best of luck in his new position leading the Office of Professional Responsibility and welcome Acting Director Martin to the Whistleblower Office.

  • Bubba Shawn

    Director Martin has private sector experience. That should bring needed empathy and John Koskinen type “can do” cultural changes within the entire IRS Whistleblower Program stakeholders.

    Surprise changes at the top always brings uncertainty. With so much award money at stake, 2007, 2008 and 2009 languishing and unpaid whistleblowers require some communication from Commissioner Koskinen that the new WO Director is in place to do more than fix the whistleblower claims database problems. Director Martin must reassure us unpaid whistleblowers that ALL the collected proceeds are counted in awards. I still have my doubts about that because there are so few 7623(b) claims paid compared with 7623(a) claims.

  • Linda Williams

    So after 8 years of managing the orderly limitation and decline of the IRS Whistleblower Program Whitlock is going back to the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility where he originally came from in February 2007. It’s a sideways shuffle.

    I quote from the original IRS press release announcing Whitlock’s appointment in 2007.

    “This is an important new office at the IRS, and Steve brings a strong background in ethics and tax issues to help get this program off to a good start,” said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson. “Under Steve’s leadership, we will meet expectations from Sen. Grassley and other supporters to run a robust program.”

    Does anybody think that Stephen Whitlock “ran a robust program” during the last 8 years?

    Answer, NO. ………..and that’s why its a sideways shuffle at very short notice with little or no warning.

    Ultimately Mr Whitlock knows that the GAO report on the mismanagement of the IRS Whistleblower Program, requested by Senator’s Wyden and Hatch, is due out in late September. That report is going to be a testament to 8 years of bureaucratic inefficiency and mismanagement amongst other things. Mismanagement, in that Stephen Whitlock gave up effective control of the IRS Whistleblower Program to the Whistleblower Executive Committee (meets once a month) and the IRS Office of Chief Council.

    Yes Stephen Whitlock was a “NICE GUY” to meet at various conferences, but sadly he was an ineffective manager for such a high profile and difficult job.

    Whitlock’s legacy………….it took 7 years to get the regulations in place……..hundreds of perfectly good submissions rejected …………….12 payments in 8 years…………………………just rubbish!

  • Bubba Shawn

    Okay Linda, Stephen Whitlock was ineffective is getting us paid. Now we have a new Director with the legal authority to write award determinations. I know the IRS has a very hard sell to convince us unpaid whistleblowers that we we will be treated fairly, paid more quickly and paid higher award percentages. But shouldn’t we give Director Martin a chance to fix all the bureaucratic hurdles that you listed and show us that we are going to get paid?

    I believe Director Martin’s private sector profession experience will serve him well in dealing with IRS Whistleblowers who all worked for tax cheats in the private sector. Perhaps he will be more sympathetic toward those of us who had good careers and made good salaries working for the tax cheats we turned in. Perhaps Director Martin will remember what it was like working for a boss that was driven by the bottom line and did whatever it took – including cheating on their taxes – to make payroll and satisfy shareholders.

    Perhaps Director Martin’s experience working for big companies will make him understand the career pressures in accounting departments put on high salary CFOs who will not under any circumstances cheat on the company’s books. Those CFOs, like I was, had their careers destroyed because they would not cheat on the company’s taxes.

    Commissioner Koskinen is making needed changes in the WO to streamline the award determinations.

    The bottom line is that the US Senate wants IRS whistleblowers paid and Commissioner Koskinen needs the goodwill of Congress for his IRS budgets.

    We need to thank Senator Grassley’s leadership for persuading other Senators to support unpaid IRS whistleblowers. Commissioner Koskinen understands that he needs Senators to make on how we all need to get paid.

  • Anish

    After 8 and half years running an office that can only be described as a complete failure a lateral move seems quite generous for Director Whitlock. It would be great if Director Martin would start off by clearing up the backlog of payments most certainly due to whistleblowers. But let us not get our hopes to high, the Chief Counsel will still be pulling the strings. That said, any change from the status quo should be a positive.

  • Anish

    What would really be positive is if Director Martin would hire Jane Kim as his deputy director. It would show that it is not his intention to be a puppet of senior management and he will fight for the WB program to finally be implemented the way Congress intended it to. No, it won’t happen. But if Director Martin reads this blog it might get him thinking.

  • Myheadhurtz

    So according to Grassley, today is National Whistleblower Appreciation Day.

    http://www.grassley.senate.gov/news/news-releases/grassley-remarks-national-whistleblower-appreciation-day

    So what are your thoughts on this? It is hard to feel appreciate when alot of us are still waiting for their payout. How is it there is 12 people on this committee yet none of them have any influences in how to get the WO to move things along.

  • Bubba Shawn

    Myheadhurtz,

    The US Senate is all about feel good votes to “expedite” IRS award payments and baloney official days like National Whistleblower Appreciation Days. That just makes politicians feel they are doing something to get us paid.

    On August 3rd, The WO will have a new Director. Hopefully, Director Martin with his software skills will make sure that all the collected proceeds are credited to our claims and pacing awards a lot faster .

    There is a huge irony about National Whistleblower Appreciation Day deemed by Congress at the same time that same Congress wants to impeach the one IRS Commissioner who truly likes and appreciates IRS whistleblowers whose contributions help tax enforcement.

  • Myheadhurtz

    Bubba Shawn,

    You have more confident in Commissioner Koskinen then most of us. He has proven to tell everyone what they want to hear while having his hand in the cookie jar. He is in Obama’s pockets. Until we get a new president, we are all sitting on the fence waiting our turn.

  • Bubba Shawn

    Myheadhurtz,

    We all have been waiting way too long to get paid. I know that six audits were completed on my claim way back in September 2012. Way back in October 2013 I was told that a number of actions need to be completed. My understanding of the regulations is that an “action” starts when the IRS field office receives the tip and ends when the WO Director makes a determination. I believe that the IRS is way too generous with periodic tax payment terms on whistleblower claims.

    I know that when a whistleblower is assigned another claim number containing a year that is when the claim file is received back into the WO from outside IRS departments like Collections. I believe that is when the hated two year SOL clock starts.

    John Koskinen is the only IRS Commissioner who has shown that he wants us paid sooner rather than later.

    Another future President appointing a new IRS Commissioner is fraught with risk. Especially when more than a few current Presidential candidates openly want to abolish the IRS. That kind of thinking is not going to get us paid.

    I like John Koskinen simply because he likes us.

  • waiting forever

    Bubba,

    You said that the IRS issues a new claim number after the WO office receives the file back and this quicks off the SOL. I believe you are correct. I received a new claim number with an updated year a few years ago. This was after the tax payer had paid on my claim – confirmed by inside sources and the companies filed annual statement. The SOL ran out over a year ago.

    However, looking at the latest whistleblower report, it is a three year wait after the SOL expires before an award is issued. There are several actions the WO office should perform during the SOL, but they wait for one status to close before moving on to the next.

    Here are the items in the report that come after the SOL with the average time open claims have stayed in this catagory:

    1. Reviewing results of field action to determine whether there is sufficient information to make an award evaluation (this item should be performed while waiting for the SOL to expire) 362 days.
    6. admin proceeding preliminary award recommendation letter 3 days

    The above take an average of 706 days. Then the whistleblower has to accept the award – if not there is another waiting period while negotiations go on.

    Most surprising, the average wait for final award processing is 218 day. I am hoping this is unusual, but it is the only information published, although this is just for 2 claims.

    So, it is a five year wait from the time a taxpayer makes final payment before an award is received.

  • Bubba Shawn

    Waiting forever,

    I hope and pray that you are wrong. But the stomach punch feeling I get from reading your analysis tells me that you are likely right.

    I never considered those steps until you brought them to our attention.

    Perhaps Director Martin will move the final payment to award determination letter processes faster and may just eliminate some steps.

    Beginning the IRS whistleblower journey eight years ago this month I was hopeful the IRS was the organization that I respected and admired. Currently, I find it very difficult holding onto those hopes.

  • waiting forever

    Bubba,

    I am hoping I am wrong also. I hope I misread the report. Actions like reviewing results of field action should happen during the SOL. However, if they happen during the SOL, why would it be a separate category?

    Martin could definelty speed things up by having items run in parallel rather than series. Also, he could issue a directive on how long a piece of paper sets on someones desk before they act on it. Why does it take 28 days for a manage to approve an award recommendation? Or 56 days to write a memo. There aren’t a lot of claims in these categories, so it wouldn’t be asking the impossible to have these completed in a week rather than months.

    Like you, my process started over eight years ago. Payments were made by the tax payer over three years ago – actual payments, not just a reduction in NOL. On their books, it is a closed tax year with no appeals or right to appeal. Yet nothing is heard from the office.

    It feels like the IRS has set up a bureaucracy where everything most proceed in distinct steps. This is probably the least efficient way to handle these claims. Maybe with Martin’s experience in IT and working in the private sector, he will recognize this and revamp the process.

  • Mark

    The Whistleblower program sounds good but it is not working for the individual who give the information the reason I say that our federal court is the true tax shelters. Misclassification of employees is filed under fake case numbers whereas business will pay their hired in employees for unpaid overtime but ones who work for a year in the company move out like cattle going to the slaughterhouse temporary employees 20% of the workforce in a class action lawsuit get paid under a different case number and change the name of the corporation. Why should a finding like this take years to close? This fraud on the court, double jeopardy and attorneys get paid under the table. I’m poor tired of getting stepped on this how military veterans get treated and cheated.

  • Bubba Shawn

    Director Martin’s priority is to communicate to IRS whistleblowers.

  • Bubba Shawn

    Director Martin is paying out awards. This week, K-M Partners announced IRS awards paid to clients. One of those clients received a 30% award.

    That is a first. Perhaps Direct Martin is embracing Commissioner Koskinen’s belief that us IRS whistleblowers are friends of the IRS NOT the enemy.

    Increasing the award percentages will alleviate to royal screwing IRS whistleblowers are getting from the sequestration reductions. Embracing Erica Brady’s recommendation on starting the award calculation at higher percentages than 15%, is very doable and would reassure us whistleblowers that we are being awarded fairly.