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IRS 2021 Whistleblower Report Reveals Increase in Claim Numbers But Decrease in Collections and Awards

Ruth Singleton
Published Date:
Jun 14, 2022

GettyImages-526489825 Whistle Whistleblower

The IRS issued the fiscal year 2021 report for its Whistleblower Office last week, revealing mixed results for whistleblower cases. On the one hand, John Hinman, director of the office, wrote in the report’s introduction that “whistleblower claim numbers assigned in FY 2021 grew by 55 percent year over year, the second highest level of new claim numbers in the history of the program and claim closures also increased by 13 percent.” 

On the other hand, according to Accounting Today, the amount that the IRS has collected from its whistleblower program and the amount it has given out in awards to whistleblowers have both gone down dramatically, compared to recent years. 

The report states that in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2021, the Whistleblower office made 179 award payments to whistleblowers totaling $36,144,926, and that the proceeds it collected were $245,303,646, including $22,769,265.collected for criminal fines, civil forfeitures, and violations of reporting requirements. 

But those amounts are considerably lower than in recent years. Accounting Today quoted Dean Zerbe, a partner at the Houston-based law firm Zerbe, Miller, Fingeret, Frank & Jadav who represents tax whistleblowers. He said, “Today’s report on the IRS whistleblower program is dispiriting—with the numbers of dollars collected thanks to the program falling to $245 million—down from $1.44 billion just three years ago, Awards to whistleblowers have dropped to $34.5 million—almost a tenth of where the program was in 2018.” 

Zerbe noted that the whistleblower award programs at other federal agencies have done much better, noting that “the tiny CFTC whistleblower award program has made over $211 million in awards to whistleblowers in the last 12 months,” and that the SEC program made $564 million in awards last year. “These are agencies that have fully embraced a whistleblower program and have a culture of making awards to whistleblowers—which is the key to encouraging more whistleblowers to come forward,” Zerbe said. 

However, Zerbe was positive about the  appointment of Hinman and said he hopes to see a turnaround.  

In the annual report introduction, Hinman wrote, “During FY 2021, the Whistleblower Office underwent a major reorganization to better serve whistleblowers and accommodate program growth..” 


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