Late on November 16th, the Senate Finance Committee voted to approve its iteration of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, passing the measure on a party-line 14-12 vote. The full version can be found here. Of particular interest to our readers here is one of the amendments that was added to this in committee. Senator Grassley submitted a number of amendments to this bill including an amendment that:
modifies section 7623 to define collected proceeds eligible for awards to include: (1) penalties, interest, additions to tax, and additional amounts, and (2) any proceeds under enforcement programs that the Treasury has delegated to the IRS the authority to administer, enforce, or investigate, including criminal fines and civil forfeitures, and violations of reporting requirements. This definition would also be used to determine eligibility for the enhanced reward program under which proceeds and additional amounts in dispute exceed $2,000,000. Collected proceeds amounts would be determined without regard to whether such proceeds are available to the Secretary.
This is the latest step by Senator Grassley to ensure that the IRS Whistleblower Program is administered as he intended when he initially drafted and stewarded the 2006 amendments to section 7623 through Congress. Senator Grassley has consistently stated that this has been his understanding of the term and the intent of Congress in enacting the amendments to section 7623(b). In fact, Senator Grassley has gone so far as to file an amicus brief in the appeal of Whistleblower 21276-13W v. Commissioner, in which he makes the case that at the time of the 2006 amendments the term collected proceeds was used broadly and the IRS had been interpreting the base on which it could pay award broadly and the amendments sought to further broaden the amounts on which an award could be paid, not restrict the payments.
The mark up made it out of committee, but there is not guarantee that the Senate will pass the bill, as written or at all. Then it will have to go to conference due to differences with the version from the House. So stay tuned because there is a LONG way to go before the law actually changes.