January 24, 2017

IRS Releases Encouraging Whistleblower Report for 2016

By Phillip Brown

The Internal Revenue Service recently released its annual report to Congress regarding its whistleblower program and the results are encouraging, with hope for an even better 2017.

Since 2007, whistleblowers have helped the IRS collect more than $3.4 billion in tax revenue and have been awarded more than $465 million for their efforts. Coming off of a strong 2015 in which the IRS awarded 99 whistleblowers a combined $103 million — more than double the collective sum it awarded whistleblowers in 2014 — 2016 did not disappoint. The IRS reported that in fiscal year 2016, it made 418 awards to whistleblowers, totaling more than $61 million. Although the cumulative monetary value of awards was $42 million less than in 2015, the number of whistleblower awards represents an enormous increase of nearly 322%. And the total claims closed by the IRS increased by nearly 100%, which is a dramatic improvement over 2015’s strong increase of 27%.

While some would argue that the IRS has a well-earned reputation as a “black hole” for whistleblower claims, the 2016 report provides plenty of cause for optimism about the program’s future. Notably, the IRS Whistleblower Program reported it has worked through the backlogs identified in 2015 by the Government Accountability Office. According to the report, “[t]he backlogs have now been fully addressed or eliminated – enabling claims to move further along in the process to be worked appropriately.” Of particular significance, the Whistleblower Program reported that it has “reengineered and improved the process flow from claim receipt and onward, so that it is streamlined, efficient, and effective, enabling whistleblower claims to be timely and appropriately evaluated.”

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