Did you know there is a federal rewards program that pays people to turn in others for cheating on their tax returns? Who’s looking over your shoulder? Should you be concerned? And what do you know that the Feds may want to hear?
Many trusted employees have access to records that their employers entrust to them – accountants, bookkeepers, even those being paid to shred documents.
In 2006, Congress directed the IRS to pay increased rewards to informants of at least 15% and as much as 30% of taxes, penalties and interest collected where $2 million or more is brought in.
According to an article in “Forbes Magazine”, by October 30, 2009, the IRS Whistleblower Office (the IRS has a Whistleblower Office?) logged leads on 1900 taxpayers, up from 1246 in 2008. 2008 tips found an alleged $65 billion in unreported income! That would provide some sweet whistleblower payout checks.
One informant, in June 2007, turned in UBS AG, a Swiss company helping wealthy Americans hide money offshore. So far, the investigation he sparked has produced $780 million in payments to the U.S. government from UBS, uncovered 4,450 US taxpayers with secret UBS accounts and helped pressure 14,700 taxpayers to make “voluntary” disclosures of previously undisclosed income. Wow, what kind of check did that informant get? And is s/he now in some kind of witness protection program?
Since Congress rewrote the Civil War-era law in 1986, the government has collected $14.5 billion from whistleblower cases and paid out $2.7 billion to informers and their lawyers. This September, one whistleblower was awarded $51.5 million for exposing Pfizer’s illicit marketing of the painkiller Bextra.
If we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing, no problem, right? To read more on this, check out the December 14, 2009, issue of “Forbes Magazine”.