The IRS just released its annual report on the whistleblower program – showing over $616 million dollars brought into the Treasury thanks to the work of tax whistleblowers speaking out about tax evasion. While the awards to tax whistleblowers is not as high as last year’s record of collection of over $1.4 billion dollars and $312 million in awards – the awards for FY 2019 are still a solid $120 million (by comparison a marked improvement still over the $33.9 million in FY 2017 awards).

The trend is clear that the IRS has embraced the modern mandatory tax whistleblower program created by my old boss Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) – and it is honest taxpayers who have most benefited. Credit to the director of the IRS whistleblower office Lee Martin and his team for getting these awards out (as well as the support from IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig for the program).

The report makes note that the clarification in the law (26 U.S.C. 7623(c)) that whistleblowers can be paid for FBAR violations (undeclared foreign bank accounts) as well as criminal fines has been a key – with $110 million of the $616 million collected based on that clarification of the law. From my own practice representing tax whistleblowers, it is clear that the IRS continues to take a strong interest in receiving information from informed whistleblowers about offshore accounts and criminal tax activity.  Interesting, the report highlights for the first time that the IRS received 282 submissions from whistleblowers overseas last year. Being a foreign national is certainly not a bar to blowing the whistle to the IRS – and receiving an award.
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The Swiss bank whistleblower who outed Americans’ secret USB bank accounts says he has information on more wrongdoing. Bradley Birkenfeld, who is described on his website as the “worlds most celebrated whistleblower,”  appeared at an offshore fraud and financial services conference in Miami in April. Birkenfeld was “treated like a celebrity,” reported journalist Brian Ross, who covered the event for Law & Crime Network, a legal website and streaming service.

The National Whistleblower Center supported Mr. Birkenfeld in his case, which involved a $20 billion tax evasion scheme.


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Whistleblowers helped the IRS collect more than $1.4 billion in criminal fines, civil forfeitures, and reporting violations in fiscal year 2018, according to an agency report released Wednesday.

Of that record amount, more than $300 million went to IRS whistleblowers – an average of 21.7 percent of proceeds collected.That’s an increase from fiscal year 2017, when the average reward was 17 percent.

It was a record setting year in proceeds collected and award amounts paid, according to Lee D. Martin, director of the IRS Whistleblower Office. Since 2007, the program has made more than $800 million in whistleblower awards based on the collection of $5 billion.

In a written statement, Stephen M. Kohn, president of the National Whistleblower Center, called the report “the best news of the year for whistleblowers.” The IRS program is now working well, he wrote. “Whistleblowers who witness tax frauds will be encouraged to take the risk, and report the crimes. This is game changing.”


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Internal-Revenue-Service-buildingIn February 2018, Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, requiring the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to include penalties for Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) violations in calculating whistleblower awards. Prior to this statutory change being signed into law, FBAR violations were not included in the calculation of IRS whistleblower awards.
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