Filling Treasury Jobs Delayed Over IRS Whistleblower Concerns

Senator Charles Grassley said he’ll block the confirmation of two assistant secretaries of the Treasury until the Internal Revenue Service improves its program to reward whistleblowers who inform on tax cheats and scofflaws.

Grassley, an Iowa Republican who wrote a 2006 law overhauling the IRS whistle-blower program, said in a statement that he won’t approve the nominations of Mark Mazur and Matthew Rutherford until he gets answers to a June 21 letter. He sent the letter about the program to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman.

“I rewrote the statute in 2006 to encourage whistle-blowing on big-dollar tax cheats,” Grassley said in a statement today. “However, nearly six years since those changes were enacted, Treasury has yet to issue much needed regulations and IRS has paid less than a half dozen awards under the new program.”

Grassley cited a June 19 Bloomberg News report that the IRS had received 1,300 claims against more than 10,000 companies since 2006, and issued three awards. The following day, IRS Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement Steven T. Miller sent a two-page memo to senior agency officials ordering them to work closely with whistleblowers and pledging a “comprehensive review” of the agency’s guidelines and procedures for handling whistle-blower complaints.

Grassley said in today’s statement that he is waiting for promised replies from Geithner and Shulman. “Until I receive those responses, I will object to proceeding with the nominations of Mr. Rutherford and Dr. Mazur,” he wrote.

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