Whistleblower Bradley Birkenfeld, whose $104 million reward from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service set a record three weeks ago, has helped set off a rush of would-be imitators hoping to cash in on a government program to catch tax cheats.
Birkenfeld, now living in New Hampshire, helped lead the IRS to collect hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. taxes owed on money stashed in Swiss bank UBS AG, where he once worked.
"It's been a watershed moment for whistleblowing," said Jordan Thomas, chairman of Labaton Sucharow's whistleblower representation practice, which has also seen an increase in inquiries.
Confidentiality laws keep information about IRS payouts minimal. The agency has said it paid two rewards last year and was on track to pay another three to five this year, including Birkenfeld's.
According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, as of last April, a total of 1,387 whistleblowers had identified 9,540 wayward taxpayers since the overhaul was enacted.
Whistleblowers have a growing number of options beyond the IRS. In the past few years, the Federal False Claims Act has been updated and state-level tax and false claim programs in New York and elsewhere have been changed or created, said lawyer Neil Getnick, of Getnick & Getnick LLP.
A new whistleblower program at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has just finished its first year and the first reward of $50,000 has been given to an anonymous tipster. That is 30 percent of what the SEC has collected in the case so far and will rise as more is collected. A court already has awarded $1 million in sanctions in the case and judgments might yet come against other defendants, the SEC said.
Working against whistleblowers are the long odds of a huge payout, the years most cases take to resolve and the personal turmoil and struggle to find new employment that any informant might face.
If you You want to be a Wistle Blower or are Victum of a Wistle Blower, contact the Tax Lawyers at Marini & Associates, P.A. for a FREE Tax Consultation at www.TaxAid.us or www.TaxLaw.ms or Toll Free at 888-8TaxAid (888 882-9243).