There are reports that the Director of the Whistleblower Office at the Internal Revenue Service has been named director of the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility. Whitlock is to be succeeded by Lee D. Martin, the deputy director of OPR, effective August 3, 2015. Martin has an MBA from Webster University in St. Louis and a Bachelor of Science degree from Friends University majoring in Math and Chemistry.
Whitlock has been in charge of the office since it opened following its establishment in the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006. Last year, the agency completed the final rules related to section 7623(b), which authorized mandatory awards for eligible whistleblowers in cases where $2 million in taxes, penalties and interest is at issue.
The IRS program has been under controversy for the past few years as critics question the high number of tips versus the low number of awards that the program has issued. Even Senator Grassley, responsible for sponsoring many of the government laws in this area, has called for reforms within the agency to reassure individuals that there information is being taken seriously. The IRS program has defended the delay with information about the length that it takes to complete these types of cases and concern about maintaining the privacy rights of the taxpayers under investigation.
We know that there are thousands of tax whistleblowers who have submitted information to the program about noncompliant individuals and companies that are hoping the change in leadership helps to speed their claim on its way. Let’s hope that if the critics are right, Martin is able to get the program back on track.
The IRS program is not the first to see a change in leadership. The Dodd-Frank program created by the CFTC saw the appointment of Christopher Ehrman to the role in 2013. Prior to this role, Ehrman served as the Assistant Director in the Office of Market Intelligence in the Division of Enforcement. Vincente Martinez, who served as the first director of the CFTC program, moved to a position as Chief of the Office of Market Intelligence at the SEC.
Congratulations to both individuals on their new roles! If you have questions about this or another aspect of the tax whistleblower program, feel free to contact one of our IRS whistleblower attorneys via our contact form or by calling 1-800-590-4116.