A guest post from Dean Zerbe, senior policy analyst for the National Whistleblower Center and former tax counsel for the Senate Finance Committee.

Tax whistleblowers had good news the other day with the Taxpayer First Act of 2019 (Public Law 116-25) being signed into law – including anti-retaliation protections for tax whistleblowers as well

IRS-Whistleblower-Building-Washington-DCToday, the U.S. Department of Justice officially dismissed their appeal of case Whistleblower 21276-13W and 21277-13W v. CIR, Case Nos. 17-1119 and 1120 (D.C. Cir.), marking a big win for IRS whistleblowers. Below is a statement from the whistleblowers’ attorneys.

The law firms of Zerbe, Miller, Fingeret, Frank & Jadav, PC (ZMF); Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto (KKC) and Robert Amsel, Esq. are pleased to announce today a key victory for tax whistleblowers with the filing of a joint stipulation for dismissal of the government’s appeal in the cases of Whistleblower 21276-13W and 21277-13W v. CIR, Case Nos. 17-1119 and 1120 (D.C. Cir.). The case was scheduled for oral argument on April 9, 2018 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.  It had pitted the U.S. Department of Justice and IRS against two whistleblowers whose information has led to $54.131 million in criminal penalties and civil forfeitures awarded against a major Swiss bank.  The DOJ and IRS were arguing that the tax whistleblower law did not apply to criminal tax cases that resulted in payments of fines and civil forfeitures.


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Washington, D.C. March 15, 2016. The Tax Court in Whistleblower 22716-13W v. CIR(146 TC 6) decided March 14, 2016 held that the term “additional amounts” as used in 7623(b)(5)(B) does not include FBAR civil penalties.  FBAR civil penalties are a penalty commonly imposed by the IRS on individuals with illegal offshore accounts.


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This was a banner year for the Internal Revenue Services’ Whistleblower Program. In its annual report to Congress, released February 10, 2016, the IRS said it paid 99 awards totaling more than $103 million.

Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center, stated, “the program is staring to work.” According to Kohn, the IRS Program, at its 10-year mark, is performing at higher level then the Department of Justice’s False Claims Act program did over a comparable length of time.
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Washington, D.C. November 30, 2015. A Government Accountability Office Report issued today confirmed that the IRS Whistleblower Office has made 500 awards to whistleblowers amounting to over $315 million in claims paid since 2011. A copy of the GAO Report is linked here.

According to the report, the IRS currently has 30,152 open claims, which, if investigated, could result in the recovery of hundreds of billions of dollars from tax cheats. The GAO found that “Individuals who report on the under payment of taxes . . .potentially helped the IRS collect billions of tax revenue that may otherwise go undetected.”

Stephen M. Kohn, who successfully represented Swiss Bank whistleblower Bradley Birkenfeld and who serves as the Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center, stated as follows:

“The IRS is making important progress in its whistleblower program and the payment of over 500 claims demonstrates a growing commitment to the success of the program.
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Attorneys Stephen Kohn and Dean Zerbe are pleased to announce today that a joint client – who wishes to remain anonymous – received a whistleblower award under the new IRS whistleblower award program of $11.6 million dollars.

“We greatly appreciate the IRS recognizing the work of this whistleblower and for making this significant, major award. We commend the IRS for this fair and equitable determination of the whistleblower’s award amount and percentage. The whistleblower’s work translated into tens of millions of dollars recovered by the US Treasury,” said Kohn and Zerbe.
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In a significant pro-whistleblower decision yesterday, the Tax Court in a decision 144 TC 15 (Whistleblower 21276-13W v. IRS) made it clear that the IRS couldn’t deny a whistleblower an award because they filed a request for an award after the IRS had collected the fines and penalties from the targeted business.  The whistleblowers’ extensive cooperation with IRS and law enforcement agents was directly responsible for the IRS collecting a large monetary penalty from the targeted business.  Shortly after the IRS successfully concluded its case against the targeted business the whistleblowers filed a claim for an award under the IRS whistleblower program citing their extensive assistance to the IRS during the investigation.

The lead counsel representing the whistleblower in Tax Court was National Whistleblower Center (NWC) advisor Dean Zerbe of ZFFJ law firm. NWC Executive Director Stephen M. Kohn and NWC General Counsel David K. Colapinto were also counsel for the whistleblowers. This is the first evidentiary trial for tax whistleblowers that has been held by the Tax Court.


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