IRS Whistleblower Office Director and Tax Court Judge Gather with Whistleblower Attorneys

For the second time since the new IRS Whistleblower office was created in early 2007, IRS Whistleblower Office Director Stephen A. Whitlock addressed questions from whistleblower attorneys at the Taxpayers Against Fraud annual conference yesterday in Washington. Joining him as panelists were U.S. Tax Court Special Trial Judge Lewis R. Carluzzo; Professor Dennis J. Ventry, Jr. of American University’s Washington College of Law; Erika Kelton of Phillips & Cohen LLP; and as moderator Paul D. Scott of the Law Offices of Paul D. Scott.

Afterward, I had the pleasure of meeting one-to-one and interviewing IRS Whistleblower Office Director Whitlock for an article on “best practices” for lawyers who pursue IRS Whistleblower claims, which will appear in Taxpayers Against Fraud’s publication, the TAF Quarterly Review.

As this whistleblower lawyer blog has followed closely, much progress with the new IRS Whistleblower Program has occurred since Director Whitlock first appeared at the TAF Annual Conference a year ago to explain the new program.

In December 2007, the IRS issued its long-anticipated interim “guidance” for pursuing IRS Whistleblower claims.

An explosion of new claims followed that announcement, as the total claims quickly grew tenfold from 80 to 800 (not counting claims screened out by the Whistleblower Office). The leanly-staffed Whistleblower Office has grown to only fifteen, many of whom were in attendance yesterday.

Meanwhile, in June 2008 the United States Tax Court–which will hear any appeals of whistleblower rewards–has proposed amendments to its Rules of Practice and Procedure regarding whistleblower award actions, which can be found at http://www.ustaxcourt.gov/press/060208.pdf. Thus, it was very productive to bring together Tax Court Judge Carluzzo, whistleblower attorneys, and Director Whitlock to discuss their own perspectives on issues arising in the pursuit of IRS Whistleblower claims.

We congratulate the Whistleblower Office staff members for the progress of the program, and applaud their professionalism in working with the hundreds of claims that are being submitted.

We also thank TAF Executive Director Jeb White for staging a first-class conference for the country’s qui tam and IRS Whistleblower attorneys.