WASHINGTON, D.C. — IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel must address new allegations of retaliation against an IRS whistleblower and abide by his commitment made in sworn testimony before the Ways and Means Committee to protect the rights of whistleblowers, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (MO-08) directed in a letter to Werfel today.
On Monday, Chairman Smith received a letter from counsel representing an IRS employee – who had previously reached out to the Committee regarding allegations of misconduct in the handling of a high-profile case – asserting that the employee was subject to retaliation by the agency after contacting the Committee, and that the whistleblower and a team of IRS investigators were removed from performing certain duties. In his letter to Werfel, Chairman Smith makes clear the seriousness with which the Committee takes such allegations and demands that the IRS provide a briefing and explanation to the Committee immediately – particularly given the Commissioner’s previous promise that there would be no such retaliation:
“I write to request an urgent briefing and explanation from your office regarding extremely troubling allegations that run directly counter to your sworn testimony in front of the Committee on Ways and Means. An Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employee alleges that he or she has been retaliated against for seeking to share information with Congress as a protected whistleblower, despite your testimony before the Committee that ‘there will be no retaliation.’ These allegations are extremely serious. Such retaliation not only discourages whistleblowers from coming forward to Congress but can also constitute an illegal violation of statutory protections for whistleblowers.”
Smith cites the May 15, 2023, letter from the IRS whistleblower’s attorney which lays out how the whistleblower and other IRS investigators were relieved of certain duties following contact with the Ways and Means Committee:
“…the Committee received a letter from the IRS employee’s legal counsel notifying the Committee that on May 15, 2023, the IRS employee ‘was informed that he and his entire investigative team are being removed from the ongoing and sensitive investigation of the high-profile, controversial subject about which [their] client sought to make whistleblower disclosures to Congress.’ Moreover, the letter notes that the IRS employee was informed that the change was made at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice.”
Reinforced throughout Chairman Smith’s letter to Commissioner Werfel is the fact that less than three weeks ago – during sworn testimony before the Ways and Means Committee and in direct response to a question from Chairman Smith – Werfel pledged to protect whistleblowers:
“…I specifically asked you at the Committee’s April 27, 2023, hearing entitled, Accountability and Transparency at the Internal Revenue Service with IRS Commissioner Werfel, to commit that there will be no retaliation taken against that whistleblower. You responded with the following:
“Mr. Chairman, while I can’t comment on a specific case, I can say without any hesitation there will be no retaliation for anyone making an allegation or a call to a whistleblower hotline.”
Given the seriousness of the allegation, Chairman Smith demands the Committee receive a briefing no later than 5pm on May 18, 2023.
Read the full letter here.
- April 19, 2023 – Ways and Means Committee receives letter from counsel representing an IRS employee asking the Committee to investigate concerns the employee has regarding allegations of misconduct in the handling of a high-profile case.
- April 27, 2023 – During sworn testimony before the Ways and Means Committee, IRS Commissioner Werfel says no employee making an allegation or contacting a whistleblower hotline will face retaliation.
- May 15, 2023 – Counsel for the IRS whistleblower contacts the Committee to report that their client as well as other agency employees were relieved of certain duties related to conducting a sensitive, high-profile investigation.
READ: Chairman Smith: Is Commissioner Werfel Upholding Whistleblower Protections He Promised or Violating the Law and Their Rights Instead?
READ: Five Key Moments from the Ways & Means Hearing on Accountability and Transparency at the IRS
READ: Statement from Chairman Smith on IRS Whistleblower Outreach