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November 20, 2016
On a local and national scale, whistleblowers are starting to win.
In August, the U.S. tax court awarded over $17 million to a pair of whistleblowers in a landmark decision that expanded the range of what can be claimed in such cases. For the first time, the tax court’s ruling permitted whistleblowers to get a portion of criminal fines and civil forfeitures in addition to part of the taxes the government recouped because of information they provided. The Wall Street Journal reports that the parties involved in the case weren’t disclosed, but it appears to stem from the prosecution of Wegelin & Co. The Swiss bank closed after it pleaded guilty in 2013 to conspiring with U.S. taxpayers to hide money from the IRS.
So what does this mean for other potential whistleblowers? The case eliminates the concern that they would receive less of the proceeds should the IRS chose to pursue a criminal case than if the case were pursued purely to collect owed taxes. Under the IRS whistleblower program, people who know of tax violations can file confidential claims with the IRS and get as much as 30% of what the government collects.
In Georgia, whistleblower laws prohibit public employers from retaliating against a public employee who discloses or objects to governmental fraud, waste or abuse. Note these laws only protect public, not private employees. To learn more about a potential whistleblower claim under either federal or state law, please contact the firm of Parks, Chesin & Walbert, P.C. today.