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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DOJ withdraws appeal in criminal tax whistleblower case; whistleblowers to obtain US$12.9 million award

WASHINGTON, D.C. | MARCH 29, 2018—The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit today will dismiss an appeal filed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) challenging the right of whistleblowers to obtain a financial reward based on disclosing information that results in the criminal prosecution of tax evaders. The case concerned a major international financial institution that was sanctioned for illegally assisting U.S. citizens in evading taxes. The IRS had initially denied an award to the two whistleblowers.  The whistleblowers challenged the denial in Tax Court and prevailed.  However, the DOJ and IRS challenged this finding in the Court of Appeals. Today, at the request of DOJ, that appeal will be dismissed, and the two whistleblowers will become the first persons to obtain an IRS whistleblower reward based on a criminal tax prosecution.


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Washington, D.C. December 16, 2017. The final version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Bill has eliminated two key provisions to protect whistleblowers who report major criminal tax frauds.

The National Whistleblower Center today issued an Action Alert asking the American public to oppose the tax bill based on the elimination of these two critical anti-fraud protections.
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The Justice Department is appealing the Tax Court’s decision in Whistleblower 21276-13W v. Commissioner and Whistleblower 21277-13W v. Commissioner, 147 T.C. No. 4 (2016). This case arose after two courageous whistleblowers stood up to the Swiss banks and exposed how the banks helped U.S. millionaires and billionaires illegally evade taxes.  These whistleblowers won a hard fought victory in Tax Court—which ruled that whistleblowers who report criminal violations of the tax laws are fully protected under the IRS whistleblower program.

Prior to this decision, there was ambiguity about whether “collected proceeds” from criminal violations would be included in calculating IRS whistleblower rewards. The consequences of this Tax Court decision on the issue are massive. The largest tax fraud cases inevitably include criminal fines and penalties, and are often primarily criminal in nature. If criminal violations were excluded from the whistleblower reward calculation, the IRS program would not incentivize those whistleblowers with the most important information about the largest tax evasion schemes to report violations.


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In a press release issued today, attorneys for a husband and wife tax fraud whistleblowers, expressed optimism that President Trump’s pick for Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin would show support for the IRS Whistleblower Office by not appealing a the Tax Court’s decision in Whistleblower 21276-13W v. CIR (147 TC 4).

The full press release is reprinted below:
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Senator Sessions: “It’s not acceptable to retaliate against a whistleblower.”

Washington, D.C. January 12, 2017. The U.S. Department of Justice manages many of America’s most important whistleblower programs, including the False Claims Act (“FCA”) anti-fraud law. The Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearing of  of President-Elect Trump’s nominee for Attorney General began on Tuesday. Sen. Chuck Grassley, Chairman of the Committee and long-time advocate of whistleblower rights, asked Sen. Jeff Sessions to confirm, on the record, his commitment to encouraging whistleblowers to step forward and to aggressively pursue fraud cases under the FCA.

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The  following is an editorial from the National Whistleblower Center:

On August 3, 2016 the U.S. Tax Court ruled that tax whistleblowers were entitled to a reward based on monies collected in criminal fines and penalties. This landmark decision reversed the position of the Department of Treasury that severely limited the “collected proceeds” upon which a whistleblower reward could be based.
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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 IRS 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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