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IRS Announces New Director of Whistleblower Office
Thursday, May 12, 2022

On May 12, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that John W. Hinman will serve as the Director of the IRS Whistleblower Office. Hinman will oversee the agency’s highly successful whistleblower award program. Since 2007, the IRS has awarded whistleblowers over $1 billion based on the collection of over $6 billion in back taxes, interest, penalties, and criminal fines and sanctions.

“We hope that as the director Mr. Hinman will have an open door policy for whistleblowers and their advocates,” said leading whistleblower attorney Stephen M. Kohn of Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto. “We look forward to working with the new director to ensure that the incredibly important tax whistleblower program properly deters fraudsters and incentivizes whistleblowers to step forward. We hope that processes are put into place that speed-up the final determinations in reward cases,” added Kohn, who also serves as the Board of Directors of the National Whistleblower Center.

The IRS Whistleblower Program has been an immense success since it was established in 2006. For example, the program incentivized the whistleblowing of Bradley Birkenfeld, the UBS banker turned whistleblower whose disclosures helped lead to the dismantling of the Swiss banking system as it existed. However, the program has recently been plagued by a number of issues, including massive delays in the issuance of whistleblower awards. According to the IRS Whistleblower Office’s most recent annual report to Congress, the IRS currently takes 10.79 years to process a whistleblower case, leading to a backlog of over 23,000 cases.

Prior to his new appointment, Hinman served as Director of Field Operations for Transfer Pricing Practice in the IRS’s LB&I Division. According to the IRS, in this position, he “oversaw field operations of the Transfer Pricing Practice economists, revenue agents, and tax law specialists who focus on complex transfer pricing issues of multinational business enterprises.” Hinman will take over as Director of the IRS Whistleblower Office from Lee D. Martin, who left the agency on April 9 to serve as the Director of the Directorate of Whistleblower Protection Programs at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Geoff Schweller also contributed to this article.

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