TREASURY INSPECTOR GENERAL FOR TAX ADMINISTRATION

 

 

The Informants’ Rewards Program Needs More Centralized Management Oversight

 

 

 

June 2006

 

Reference Number:  2006-30-092

 

 

This report has cleared the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration disclosure review process and information determined to be restricted from public release has been redacted from this document.

 

Phone Number   |  202-927-7037

Email Address   |  Bonnie.Heald@tigta.treas.gov

Web Site           |  http://www.tigta.gov

 

 

June 6, 2006

 

 

MEMORANDUM FOR DEPUTY COMMISSIONER FOR SERVICES AND ENFORCEMENT

 

FROM:                            Michael R. Phillips

                                         Deputy Inspector General for Audit

 

SUBJECT:                    Final Audit Report – The Informants’ Rewards Program Needs More Centralized Management Oversight (Audit # 200530022)

 

This report presents the results of our review of the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) Informants’ Rewards Program.  The overall objective of this review, initiated at the request of the Senate Finance Committee, was to determine whether the IRS uses its Informants’ Rewards Program as a viable tool to identify, investigate, and address potential tax law violations with equitable rewards for cooperating informants.

Synopsis

The IRS uses its Informants’ Rewards Program to administer the authority provided by Internal Revenue Code Section 7623 (2004) to make payments to private citizens for assistance in “(1) detecting underpayments of tax, and (2) detecting and bringing to trial and punishment persons guilty of violating the internal revenue laws.”  Rewards are paid as a percentage of the taxes, fines, and penalties collected based on the relationship of the informant’s information to the recovery.  Rewards can also be paid on amounts collected prior to receipt of the information if the information leads to the denial of a claim for refund that otherwise would have been paid.  This Program has been an effective method of identifying and collecting unpaid taxes.  From Fiscal Years (FY) 2001 through 2005, over $340 million in taxes, fines, penalties, and interest were recovered based on information obtained through the Informants’ Rewards Program, with rewards of over $27 million paid to informants. 

The Informants’ Rewards Program has significantly contributed to the IRS’ efforts to enforce tax laws, but additional management focus could enhance the effectiveness of the Program as an enforcement tool and make the process more accommodating to informants.  Our analysis of IRS data indicated that examinations initiated based on informant information were often more effective and efficient  than returns initiated using the IRS’ primary method for selecting returns for examination.[1] 

However, we found that a lack of standardized procedures and limited managerial oversight resulted in control weaknesses over the Program.  We reviewed a judgmental sample of 22 paid claims for reward and 69 rejected claims for reward processed at 3 of the 5 Informants’ Claims Examiner (ICE) units[2] in operation during FY 2005.  We noted that each ICE unit maintained its own records because a nationwide database of informant claims does not exist.  For the paid informant claims in our sample, we found that 45 percent of the case files reviewed had problems with basic control issues (missing copies of key forms, no record of letters to informants, etc.), and we were unable to determine the justification for the reward percentage awarded to the informant in 32 percent of the cases.  For the rejected informant claims in our sample, we were unable to determine the rationale for the reviewer’s decision to reject the claim in 76 percent of the cases reviewed.

We also found that an average of over 7 ½ years passed between the filing of the initial claim by the informant and the payment of the reward.  We observed lapses in the monitoring of taxpayers’ accounts for payment activity, which may have contributed to delays.  For the rejected claims in our sample, an average of over 6 ½ months elapsed between the date of the claim and the letter to the informant rejecting the claim.  We observed instances of lengthy delays in the processing of rejected claims, such as unexplained delays between the receipt of the claim and the initial or subsequent review of the claim by ICE unit personnel.

The lack of centralized and active management oversight of the Program increases the risk of errors such as improper payment of rewards or incorrect rejection of valid claims.  Additional management focus could also assist in reducing the processing time for paid claims, which would make the Program more attractive to future informants wishing to report violations of tax laws. 

Recommendations

We recommended the Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement centralize management of the Informants’ Rewards Program to increase oversight of the Program and standardize the processing of informant claims.  We also recommended the Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement ensure a detailed nationwide database of informant claims is developed and implemented to provide increased visibility of the processing and disposition of informant claims.

Response

IRS management agreed with our recommendations.  Management’s response stated that the IRS had conducted its own review of the Informants’ Rewards Program in 2005 and was taking a number of steps to improve the management and oversight of the Program.  These steps include designating an Informants’ Rewards Program coordinator for each operating division, establishing a National Oversight Committee for the Informants’ Rewards Program, consolidating informant claims processing at the Ogden Campus, and implementing a nationwide web-based system to track, monitor, and control informant claims.  Management’s complete response to the draft report is included as Appendix VII.

Copies of this report are also being sent to IRS officials affected by the report recommendations.  Please contact me at (202) 622-6510 if you have questions or Curtis W. Hagan, Assistant Inspector General for Audit (Small Business and Corporate Programs), at (202) 622-3837.

 

 

Table of Contents

 

Background

Results of Review

The Informants’ Rewards Program Has Aided in the Recovery of a Substantial Amount of Revenue at a Minimal Cost

The Effectiveness of the Informants’ Rewards Program Is Limited by a Lack of Detailed Policies and Procedures and Centralized Management Oversight

Recommendations 1 and 2:

Appendices

Appendix I – Detailed Objective, Scope, and Methodology

Appendix II – Major Contributors to This Report

Appendix III – Report Distribution List

Appendix IV – Application for Reward for Original Information

Appendix V – Form Letter to Notify Informant of Rejection of Claim

Appendix VI – Form Letter to Notify Informant of Receipt of Claim

Appendix VII – Management’s Response to the Draft Report

 

 

Background

 

Section (§) 7623 of the Internal Revenue Code[3] authorizes payment of rewards for “(1) detecting underpayments of tax, and (2) detecting and bringing to trial and punishment persons guilty of violating the internal revenue laws.”  The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) administers this authority through its Informants’ Rewards Program.  This Program is unrelated to the rewards[4] paid to private citizens who bring suit for violations of the Federal False Claims Act[5] because the violations of the Internal Revenue Code were specifically excluded from the scope of the False Claims Act.[6] 

The Informants’ Rewards Program provides rewards for concerned citizens who supply information to the IRS that leads to the detection and punishment of tax law violations.

The IRS receives information about potential tax violations in the mail, over the telephone, or from visits to IRS walk-in offices.  Generally, an IRS employee receiving an allegation of a potential tax violation will record the information on an Information Report Referral (Form 3949).  IRS procedures instruct employees not to solicit or encourage an informant to provide information in exchange for a reward.  However, if the informant indicates that he or she wants a reward, the IRS employee will provide Rewards for Information Given to the Internal Revenue Service (Publication 733) and an Application for Reward for Original Information (Form 211)[7] to the informant.

Instructions on the back of Form 211 direct informants to submit the completed Form to the IRS campus[8] servicing their State.[9]  Upon reaching the campus, the form is routed to the Informants’ Claims Examiner (ICE) staff at the campus, which performs an initial evaluation of the reward claim.  If the Form 211 does not contain information that warrants further action, the reward claim should be rejected and the ICE staff will issue a rejection letter[10] to the informant.  If the reward claim is not immediately rejected, the claim will be acknowledged,[11] a case file established, and a control number assigned to the reward claim.  The ICE staff also performs research on the alleged tax violator’s account to determine whether there is open examination or collection activity.  If an open case exists, the examiner should send a copy of the reward claim and any information to the office conducting the ongoing activity.  If the informant alleges unreported income of $50,000 or more per year, the information should be routed to the Criminal Investigation function Area Office for the area where the alleged tax violator resides.

For those informant reward claims with open examination or collection activity, the examination or collection employee assigned to the case will complete a Confidential Evaluation Report on Claim for Reward (Form 11369) to assess the significance of the information provided by the informant and whether the informant is entitled to a reward.  If the field employee determines that a reward should be allowed, the reward percentage is determined by whether the information directly led to the recovery (15 percent); indirectly led to the recovery (10 percent); or caused the investigation but had no direct relationship to the determination of tax liability (1 percent).  The dollar amount of the reward is computed by multiplying the reward percentage by the amount of taxes, fines, and penalties (but not interest) collected.  Different reward percentages can be used if the case involves multiple taxpayers and/or tax years.  The reward amount must total at least $100 to be paid and cannot exceed $2 million in total.  The limits on the reward percentage and dollar amount can be waived by the use of a special agreement between the informant and the IRS, which must be approved by the IRS Commissioner or his or her delegate.

During hearings for the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998,[12] some members of Congress called for a provision to eliminate the Informants’ Rewards Program, believing it resulted in unwarranted examinations of honest taxpayers.  Although this provision was not included in the final legislation, the IRS does not openly promote the Program.  The public web site (IRS.gov) does not contain a webpage explaining the Program, nor does the webpage for reporting tax fraud mention the availability of rewards.  However, information such as Form 211 and Publication 733 can be located by a search of the web site.  

This review was performed at the Small Business/Self-Employed (SB/SE) Division National Headquarters in New Carrollton, Maryland, in the Campus Compliance Services organization and at the ICE staffs in the Brookhaven, Ogden, and Philadelphia Campuses, during the period September 2005 through March 2006.  The audit was conducted in accordance with Government Auditing Standards.  Detailed information on our audit objective, scope, and methodology is presented in Appendix I.  Major contributors to the report are listed in Appendix II.

 

 

Results of Review

 

The Informants’ Rewards Program Has Aided in the Recovery of a Substantial Amount of Revenue at a Minimal Cost

The Commissioner of the IRS annually provides information to Congress on the amounts collected based on informant information and the rewards paid to informants.  Figure 1 shows the results reported to Congress for the past 5 years.

Figure 1:  Rewards Paid to Informants and Taxes, Fines, Penalties, and Interest Recovered From Informants’ Information - Fiscal Years (FY) 2001 Through 2005

 

FY 2001

FY 2002

FY 2003

FY 2004

FY 2005

TOTALS

Rewards Paid to
Informants

$3,337,035

$7,707,402

$4,057,476

$4,585,143

$7,602,685

$27,289,741

Taxes, Fines, & Penalties Recovered

$30,774,539

$56,583,517

$48,379,562

$45,644,890

$68,126,671

$249,509,179

Interest Recovered on Amount Above

$13,249,794

$10,357,002

$13,176,613

$28,485,904

$25,550,935

$90,820,248

Source:  IRS annual reports to Congress.

From FYs 2001 through 2005, a total of $27,289,741 in rewards was paid to informants for the recovery of $249,509,179 in taxes, fines, and penalties, for an average reward of 10.9 percent.  Interest of $90,820,248 was also recovered on the taxes, fines, and penalties recovered, although rewards are not paid on interest recovered.  Therefore, a total of $340,329,427 was recovered due to informant information for FYs 2001 through 2005.  Because IRS procedures generally require that rewards be paid only in cases in which the informant’s information led to the examination of an issue,[13] it is reasonable to assume that the amounts recovered due to informants’ information would not have been otherwise recovered by the IRS.

IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 § 3804 required the Secretary of the Treasury to produce a report on the use of Internal Revenue Code § 7623 and the results of its use.[14]  The report, prepared by the IRS, was delivered in September 1999[15] and determined that the cost/benefit ratio of the Program compared favorably with other IRS enforcement programs.  The report estimated the IRS incurred slightly over 4 cents in cost (including personnel and administrative costs) for each dollar collected from the Informants’ Rewards Program (including interest), compared to a cost of over 10 cents per dollar collected for all enforcement programs. 

The IRS report also found that examinations initiated based on informant information had a higher dollar yield per hour[16] and a lower no-change[17] rate, when compared to returns selected using the IRS’ primary method of selecting returns, the Discriminant Index Function (DIF).[18]  The results from the final 3 years of the review are summarized in Figure 2.

Figure 2:  Comparison of Recommended Adjustment Dollars and No-Change Rates for Informant Examinations and DIF Returns - FYs 1996 Through 1998

 

ADJUSTMENT DOLLARS/HOUR

NO-CHANGE RETURNS

FYs 1996 - 1998
Returns

Total Recommended Adjustments

Total Hours

Dollars per Hour

Total Returns

No‑ Change Returns

No-Change %

Informants’ Program

$160,091,580

169,259

$946

5,292

648

12%

DIF-selected

$7,358,908,430

13,418,772

$548

997,550

169,148

17%

Source:  IRS study dated September 1999.

Examinations initiated based on informant information continue to be more productive than those initiated based on DIF scores.  The examination results from the 3 most recent years for the SB/SE Division, which conducts the vast majority of examinations based on informant information, are shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3:  SB/SE Division – Comparison of Recommended Adjustment Dollars and No-Change Rates for Informant Examinations and DIF Returns -
 FYs 2003 Through 2005

 

ADJUSTMENT DOLLARS/HOUR

NO-CHANGE RETURNS

FYs 2003 - 2005

Total Recommended Adjustments

Total Hours

Dollars per Hour

Total Returns

No‑ Change Returns

No-Change %

Informants’ Program (SB/SE Division examinations)

$26,233,554

38,139

$688

727

152

21%

DIF (SB/SE Division Revenue Agent Individual & Corporate)

422,356,790

1,105,890

$382

15,832

4,435

28%

Source:  Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration analysis of IRS data.

Because examinations based on informants’ information involve taxpayers or issues that may not have been otherwise selected by the IRS and are often more productive than examinations initiated using the IRS’ usual methods, the Informants’ Rewards Program continues to contribute to enforcement of the tax laws. 

The Effectiveness of the Informants’ Rewards Program Is Limited by a Lack of Detailed Policies and Procedures and Centralized Management Oversight

The primary guidance for the Informants’ Rewards Program is found in Internal Revenue Manual Section 25.2.  This document contains general guidance for the administration of the Program and the computation of rewards but does not include any provision for centralized management oversight or review of the activities of the ICE units.  As a result, each ICE unit has traditionally operated as a semi-autonomous entity, attached to various other teams in the Compliance Services organization at each campus.  We visited three of the five ICE units in operation in FY 2005 (Brookhaven, Ogden, and Philadelphia) and found that two of the units were attached to classification teams, while the other was attached to a Tax Equity Fiscal Responsibility Act team.  Each ICE unit had different procedures for the processing of claims, but only one unit had written documentation of these procedures. 

No nationwide database currently exists to allow management to track and monitor claims on a nationwide basis, although SB/SE Division officials informed us that a system will be implemented in the near future.  Yearly reporting of consolidated results to Congress is done by a coordinator at SB/SE Division Headquarters based on written input from each ICE unit.  Each of the three ICE units we visited tracked its claim inventory differently:  one unit primarily used a manual system and updated an online database periodically; the other two ICE units used different online databases, supplemented by standalone computer spreadsheets. 

The overall management of the Informants’ Rewards Program currently resides within the Campus Compliance Services function within the SB/SE Division.  A coordinator at the SB/SE Division Headquarters is responsible for collecting and reporting certain information annually to Congress but does not exert any managerial control over the operation of the ICE units.  No other personnel within this function devote significant time to the management of the Informants’ Rewards Program.  In our discussions with ICE unit and SB/SE Division Headquarters personnel, we were informed that there was no ongoing program to monitor the performance of ICE units, such as operational reviews or management assistance visits.

The lack of standardized procedures and the limited managerial oversight were evident in the results of our reviews of paid and rejected claims at the three ICE units included in our review.  We reviewed a judgmental sample of 22 paid claims for reward and 69 rejected claims for reward processed at the 3 ICE units during FY 2005.  For the informant claims paid in FY 2005, we found that almost one-half (45 percent) of the case files reviewed had a problem with basic control issues (missing copies of key forms, no record of letters to informants, etc.).  For the informant claims rejected in FY 2005, approximately 14 percent of the case files had similar issues, including 4 files that an ICE unit could not locate, despite the fact that the claims were listed on its database.

In addition to reviewing the basic recordkeeping at the ICE units, we reviewed the files of the rejected cases to determine if the informants’ information received appropriate initial and subsequent reviews.  We evaluated whether basic evaluation steps were taken after the claims were received, such as a review of the alleged tax violator’s account on the Integrated Data Retrieval System[19] to determine if there was open examination or collection activity against the taxpayer(s) named in the informant’s allegation, and found no evidence of these steps in the files for 59 percent of the rejected claims reviewed.  We also reviewed the rejected claims to determine if subsequent steps were taken, for example referring the information to the appropriate entities, such as the Criminal Investigation function for evaluation and/or a field examination function for determination of tax potential.  We did not find evidence of such referrals in 80 percent of the case files reviewed. 

Finally, we reviewed both the paid and rejected claims to determine if the reviewer’s decision on the ultimate action taken on the claim was justified, based on information in the case file.  For a paid claim, the most important decision is on the reward percentage granted to the informant; in 32 percent of the paid claims, we were unable to determine the justification for the percentage granted.  In most of these cases, the reviewers simply entered the percentage on the Form 11369 and did not provide any explanation for the decision. 

For a rejected claim, the reason for rejection is of major significance.  In 76 percent of the rejected informant claims included in our review, we were unable to determine the rationale for the reviewer’s decision to reject the claim, based on information in the case file.  In most of these cases, the reviewers simply noted their decisions in the case files and provided little or no description of the rationale for the decisions. 

As part of our review of rejected informant claims, we selected 30 rejected claims that alleged tax law violations by taxpayers serviced by the Large and Mid-Size Business (LMSB) Division, to determine if these claims received greater scrutiny due to the higher profile of the taxpayers and presumably larger dollar amounts involved.  We reviewed these informant claims for the same attributes as the other rejected claims, which were primarily directed at individual and small business taxpayers.  We found the results were largely comparable for all attributes other than the control of claims, as shown in Figure 4. 

Figure 4:  Comparison of Results for Review of Rejected Claims Pertaining to LMSB Division Taxpayers to Results for Review of All Other Rejected Claims

Review Item:

Rejected Claims to Which Review Item Applies

Number of Claims Not Meeting Standard

Percentage of Claims Not Meeting Standard

LMSB

All Others

LMSB

All Others

LMSB

All Others

Was claim properly controlled?

30

39

1

9

3%

23%

Did claim receive proper initial evaluation after receipt?

30

34[20]

19

19

63%

56%

Was claim properly screened for tax potential?

29[21]

21[22]

22

18

76%

86%

Was the decision to reject the claim justified?

29[23]

21[24]

21

17

72%

81%

Source:  Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration reviews of FY 2005 rejected informant claims at the Brookhaven, Ogden, and Philadelphia Campus ICE units.

Rewards are offered both to encourage informants to provide information and, in some cases, to compensate informants for risking their personal and business relationships by providing the information.  If the claims are not timely processed, the rewards may lose some of their motivating value.  Our review of the sample of 22 paid claims found that an average of over 7 ½ years passed between the filing of the initial claim by the informant and the payment of the reward.  Much of this delay was attributable to the fact that the law requires that rewards be paid only once the additional taxes, fines, and penalties have been collected from taxpayers.[25]  However, we also observed lapses in the monitoring of the taxpayer’s account for payment activity for periods in excess of a year.  The length of time required to receive payment for claims may cause informants to be less willing to come forward, especially those that risk losing their jobs by informing on their employers. 

We also observed that the processing of rejected claims took a significant length of time, with an average of over 6 ½ months between the date of the claim and the letter to the informant rejecting the claim.  We also observed instances of lengthy delays in the processing of rejected claims, such as unexplained delays between the receipt of the claim and the initial or subsequent review of the claim by ICE unit personnel.

In summary, although the Informants’ Rewards Program has significantly contributed to the detection and punishment of tax law violations, additional management focus could enhance the effectiveness of the Program.  Additional management focus could assist in reducing the processing time for claims, which would make the Program more attractive to future informants.  While our review of a sample of paid and rejected informant claims did not disclose any obvious errors of a significant magnitude (i.e., improper payment of rewards or incorrect rejection of valid claims), the lack of centralized and active management oversight of the Program increases the risk of these errors and decreases the effectiveness of the Program as a useful enforcement tool. 

Recommendations

Recommendation 1:  The Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement should centralize management of the Informants’ Rewards Program to increase oversight of the Program and standardize the processing of informant claims.

Management’s Response:  IRS management agreed with this recommendation and stated that the Informants’ Rewards Program is being consolidated at the Ogden Campus.  All Forms 211 received at any campus after April 26, 2006, are to be routed to the Ogden Campus for control and processing.

Recommendation 2:  The Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement should ensure a detailed nationwide database of informant claims is developed and implemented to provide increased visibility of the processing and disposition of informant claims.

Management’s Response:  IRS management agreed with this recommendation and stated they are developing a web-based Informants’ Claims application that will be accessible from the Ogden Campus and IRS Headquarters.  This will facilitate response to informant claims.  The application is to be operational by December 31, 2006.

 

Appendix I

 

Detailed Objective, Scope, and Methodology

 

The overall objective of this review was to determine whether the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) uses its Informants’ Rewards Program as a viable tool to identify, investigate, and address potential tax law violations with equitable rewards for cooperating informants.  To accomplish our objective, we:

I.                   Interviewed managers and responsible officials at Small Business/Self-Employed Division Headquarters to obtain an overview of the Informants’ Rewards Program; Program statistics; and the coordination that takes place among the Informants’ Rewards Program, IRS Lead Development Center, and Criminal Investigation Division Confidential Informant Program.

II.                Reviewed Internal Revenue Code Section (§) 7623,[26] the Internal Revenue Manual, and other documents to obtain an understanding of the parameters and procedures for the Informants’ Rewards Program.

III.             Analyzed statistical data from the IRS Informants’ Rewards Program for the past 5 fiscal years to determine information such as the numbers and amounts of rewards paid.

IV.             Obtained statistical performance data and other information about informant programs at the Department of Defense and the Department of Health and Human Services and discussed these programs with knowledgeable officials at the agencies.

V.                Discussed the IRS Informants’ Rewards Program with knowledgeable parties outside the IRS, such as informants and attorneys familiar with the Program, to determine whether there are opportunities to increase reporting of tax violations and whether the amount of the awards provides enough incentive for well-compensated professionals to become informants.

VI.             Selected a judgmental sample[27] of 22 informant rewards paid in Fiscal Year (FY) 2005 at the 3 Informants’ Claims Examiner (ICE) units visited.  We reviewed the case files to determine whether proper procedures were followed in processing the claims, whether the criteria used to decide upon the reward percentage were reasonable, and the amount of time from the filing of the claims to issuance of the rewards.

VII.          Reviewed examination data for the cases selected in Step VI. to determine whether the reward percentage given to the informant complied with the criteria outlined in Part 25 of the Internal Revenue Manual and applicable sections of the Internal Revenue Code and Regulations.

VIII.       Visited ICE units at three IRS Campuses (located in Brookhaven, New York; Ogden, Utah; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) to determine whether informants’ reward claims were properly processed and evaluated.

A.    Interviewed the manager of each ICE unit to determine the actual procedures used to process informants’ claims for rewards.

B.     Selected a judgmental sample[28] of 69 informant claims rejected in FY 2005 at the 3 ICE units.  We determined the information provided by the informant; the reason for rejection; the amount of time for the decision; the extent of communication, if any, with the informant; and whether the case was referred to the Criminal Investigation Division.  We also evaluated whether the rejection was made in accordance with IRS procedures.

IX.             Validated the Revenue Agent examination data used in the review to the Table 37 for the appropriate IRS business unit.  We did not establish the reliability of these data because extensive data validation tests were outside the scope of this audit and would have required a significant amount of time.

 

Appendix II

 

Major Contributors to This Report

 

Curtis W. Hagan, Assistant Inspector General for Audit (Small Business and Corporate Programs)

Kyle Andersen, Director

Philip Shropshire, Director

L. Jeff Anderson, Audit Manager

Frank Dunleavy, Audit Manager

Robert Jenness, Lead Auditor

Lisa Stoy, Senior Auditor

Debra Mason, Auditor

Ali Vaezazizi, Auditor

 

Appendix III

 

Report Distribution List

 

Commissioner  C

Office of the Commissioner – Attn:  Chief of Staff  C

Assistant Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement  SE

Commissioner, Large and Mid-Size Business Division  SE:LM

Commissioner, Small Business/Self-Employed Division  SE:S

Commissioner, Wage and Investment Division  SE:W

Deputy Commissioner, Large and Mid-Size Business Division  SE:LM

Deputy Commissioner, Small Business/Self-Employed Division  SE:S

Deputy Commissioner, Wage and Investment Division  SE:W

Director, Campus Compliance Services, Small Business/Self-Employed Division  SE:S:CCS

Director, Communications and Liaison, Small Business/Self-Employed Division  SE:S:C&L

Chief Counsel  CC

National Taxpayer Advocate  TA

Director, Office of Legislative Affairs  CL:LA

Director, Office of Program Evaluation and Risk Analysis  RAS:O

Office of Management Controls  OS:CFO:AR:M

Audit Liaisons:

Commissioner, Large and Mid-Size Business Division  SE:LM

Commissioner, Small Business/Self-Employed Division  SE:S

Commissioner, Wage and Investment Division  SE:W

 

Appendix IV

 

Application for Reward for Original Information

 

The following Form is used by informants to apply for a reward.

The Form was removed due to its size.  To see the Form, please go to the Adobe PDF version of the report on the TIGTA Public Web Page.

 

Appendix V

 

Form Letter to Notify Informant of Rejection of Claim

 

The text of the following form letter (Letter 1010 (SC)) is generally used to notify an informant of the rejection of his or her claim.

 

(name of service center)

(service center address)

Person to Contact:

Contact Telephone Number:

Claim Number:

(informant’s name)

(informant’s address)

Dear:

We have considered your Form 211, Application for Reward for Original Information.  We are sorry, but the information you furnished did not meet our criteria for a reward.  We assure you that your information was carefully reviewed and evaluated before we made our decision.

Federal disclosure and privacy laws prohibit us from telling you the specific reason for rejecting your claim.  However, we can tell you that the most common reasons for not allowing a reward are:

1. Your information did not cause an investigation or result in the recovery of taxes, penalties, or fines.

2. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) already had the information you provided.

3. The taxes recovered were too small to warrant a reward. (Our policy states that we do not pay rewards less than $100.)

Your claim will be reconsidered only if you have new information, not previously reviewed by the IRS, that has enough investigative potential to warrant further action.  If you have information that meets this description, please send it to this office, to the attention of the above contact person, and ask us to reconsider your claim.

There are no other administrative appeals available to you.  If we deny your request for reconsideration, you must bring suit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims if you wish to pursue the matter further.

Although your information did not qualify for a reward, we thank you for participating in the Informants’ Claims for Reward program.

                                                                        Sincerely,

                                                                        Director, Service Center

 

Appendix VI

 

Form Letter to Notify Informant of Receipt of Claim

 

The text of the following form letter (Letter 1891 (SC)) is generally used to notify an informant of the receipt of his or her claim for reward.

 

(name of service center)

(service center address)

Person to Contact:

Contact Telephone Number:

Claim Number:

(Informant’s name)

(Informant’s address)

Dear:

We received your claim (Form 211) in connection with the information you furnished about a tax matter and have assigned the above claim number.  We will evaluate the information you provided as soon as possible to determine if an investigation is warranted and a reward is appropriate.  Please retain this notice for future reference.

It is important to understand that if we initiate an investigation as a result of your information, it could take several years until final resolution of all tax matters.  This is especially true if the taxpayer exercises all administrative and judicial appeal rights.  In addition, before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can pay a reward, we must collect any additional taxes, penalties, or fines recovered by reason of your information.  Collection action could also take several years.

At the conclusion of our review and evaluation, we will only be able to tell you whether or not the information you provided met the criteria for a reward.  Federal disclosure and privacy laws prohibit us from informing you of specific actions we take or do not take with respect to your information.  We hope you understand this restriction placed on the IRS, by law, and ask for your patience in this matter.

We will notify you as soon as we complete all actions relating to your claim and determine whether your information qualifies you for a reward.  If you change your address, please send us a completed Form 8822, Change of Address.  You can get this form by calling 1‑800–TAX–FORM.  If you request a status of your claim, please include the claim number with your request.  Send it to this office, to the attention of the above contact person.  Please keep in mind that we may only tell you whether or not your claim is still active.

Thank you for participating in the Informants’ Claims for Reward program.

                                                                        Sincerely,

                                                                        Director, Service Center

 

Appendix VII

 

Management’s Response to the Draft Report

 

The response was removed due to its size.  To see the response, please go to the Adobe PDF version of the report on the TIGTA Public Web Page.



[1] The IRS uses the Discriminant Index Function, which is a mathematical technique used to classify income tax returns for examination potential by assigning weights to certain basic return characteristics.

[2] We visited the ICE units at the IRS Campuses in Brookhaven, New York; Ogden, Utah; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The other ICE units were located at the IRS Campuses in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Memphis, Tennessee.

[3] Internal Revenue Code § 7623 (2004).

[4] Under 31 United States Code (U.S.C.) § 3730 (1994), a private plaintiff may be entitled to between 15 percent and 30 percent of the proceeds of a successful action or settlement for a violation of the False Claims Act.

[5] 31 U.S.C. § 3729 (2002).

[6] 31 U.S.C. § 3729(e) (2002).

[7] See Appendix IV for a copy of this Form.

[8] IRS campuses perform submission processing, accounts management, and compliance services for designated customer segments.

[9] At the time of our review, the IRS had Informants’ Claims Examiner (ICE) staffs at the IRS Campuses in Brookhaven, New York; Cincinnati, Ohio; Memphis, Tennessee; Ogden, Utah; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

[10] Internal Revenue Manual Exhibit 25.2.2-7 shows Letter 1010 (SC) can be used for this purpose.  See Appendix V for the text of this Letter.

[11] Internal Revenue Manual Exhibit 25.2.2-4 shows Letter 1891 (SC) can be used for this purpose.  See Appendix VI for the text of this Letter.

[12] Pub. L. No. 105-206, 112 Stat. 685 (codified as amended in scattered sections of 2 U.S.C., 5 U.S.C. app., 16 U.S.C., 19 U.S.C., 22 U.S.C., 23 U.S.C., 26 U.S.C., 31 U.S.C., 38 U.S.C., and 49 U.S.C.).

[13] Treasury Regulation § 301.7623-1 (1998) also allows rewards to be paid for information that leads to a denial of a claim for refund that otherwise would have been paid

[14] Pub. L. 105-206, title III, Sec. 3804, July 22, 1998, 112 Stat. 783.

[15] The Informants’ Project:  A Study of the Present Law Reward Program, Internal Revenue Service, dated September 1999.

[16] Dollar yield per hour refers to the total recommended adjustments to tax liability divided by the number of examiner hours charged to examinations.

[17] For the purpose of this analysis, an examination of a return results in a “no-change” when the examination is closed in the Audit Information Management System using Disposal Code 02 (no adjustments or changes to tax liability).

[18] The DIF is a mathematical technique used to classify income tax returns for examination potential by assigning weights to certain basic return characteristics.

[19] The Integrated Data Retrieval System is an automated data base composed of information from several sources that provides IRS employees instantaneous access to certain taxpayer accounts for research, data entry, and other purposes.

[20] Five rejected claims were not evaluated for this attribute because the ICE unit could not locate the files.

[21] One rejected claim was not evaluated for this attribute because the informant did not adequately document his or her claim.

[22] Thirteen rejected claims were not evaluated for this attribute because the informant did not adequately document his or her claim.

[23] One rejected claim was not evaluated for this attribute because the informant did not adequately document his or her claim.

[24] Thirteen rejected claims were not evaluated for this attribute because the informant did not adequately document his or her claim.

[25] An informant can receive an early payment of a reward on the amounts collected by the IRS by agreeing to waive his or her right to a reward on the amounts collected after the payment of the early reward. 

[26] Internal Revenue Code § 7623 (2004).

[27] A judgmental sample was used for this step due to the lack of a nationwide informant claims database, which prevented us from obtaining an accurate and complete sampling universe.  The IRS reported that 169 claims were paid in full during Fiscal Year 2005, with an unknown number of additional partial payments.  At each of the 3 Informants’ Claims Examiner (ICE) units visited, we selected the 2 cases with the largest payments for each reward level (15 percent, 10 percent, and 1 percent), plus any special agreement cases with payments larger than those made under the normal reward levels.

[28] A judgmental sample was used due to the lack of a nationwide informant claims database, which prevented us from obtaining an accurate and complete sampling universe.  The IRS reported a total of 3,193 claims rejected during FY 2005.  At each ICE unit visited, we randomly selected a sample of 10 rejected claims from a judgmental pool of claims rejected in FY 2005.  Additional sampling of rejected claims was required at one ICE unit.  We also randomly selected a sample of 30 rejected claims from a judgmental pool of claims rejected in FY 2005 relating to taxpayers serviced by the Large and Mid-Size Business Division.