Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Whistleblower?

A whistleblower (or whistle-blower) is commonly defined as someone who witnesses fraud, corruption, waste or abuse within a private or public organization and reports the crimes to law enforcement or other proper authorities. A whistleblower brings forth information of wrongdoing that would not have otherwise been known. There is no uniform definition of a whistleblower. However, the definition commonly used includes the following:

A whistleblower (or whistle-blower) is someone:

  • Whose loyalty is to the truth;
  • Who becomes an informant to the government on corporate crimes;
  • Who exposes violations of law, including violations of the Internal Revenue Code, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the Securities Exchange Act, the Commodity Exchange Act, Bank Secrecy Act, False Claims Act, fraud in government contracting or procurement, environmental laws, or threats to the public safety;
  • Who discloses government misconduct;
  • Who participates in official whistleblower reward programs, such as those under the Dodd-Frank Act, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Commodity Exchange Act, qui tam, and IRS tax law.

What is the Meaning of Whistleblowing?

Whistleblowing is when an individual or group of individuals, known as whistleblowers, report crimes they have witnessed firsthand or have obtained knowledge of.

Modern whistleblower laws allow for individuals to file a claim and receive a share of the amount the government collects from the fraud. Whistleblowing can be dangerous and should not be taken lightly. Most programs allow for whistleblowers to file claims anonymously in order to protect themselves from retaliation or threats.

Who is a Tax Whistleblower?

A tax whistleblower is a claimant who files a Form 211 through the IRS Whistleblower Program.

The IRS Whistleblower Program is one of the strongest anti-fraud award programs available to whistleblowers who report tax evasion and fraud. Congress required the IRS to establish the IRS Whistleblower Office to pay rewards ranging from 15% to 30 % of collected proceeds to whistleblowers who report specific and credible information to the IRS and if the information results in the collection of taxes, penalties, interest or other amounts from the non-compliant taxpayer.

How Do You File an IRS Whistleblower Claim?

In order to qualify for an IRS whistleblower award under IRC Section 7623, claimants must submit an IRS Form 211 (application for Award for Original Information). It is important for IRS whistleblowers to completely fill out the Form 211 and not withhold any information. If available information is withheld, the whistleblower risks the chance that important evidence isn’t considered in the award determination.

With the Form 211, the IRS whistleblower should provide any supplemental documents or evidence that may help the IRS in their investigation. If the documents or supplemental information are not in the whistleblower’s possession, the whistleblower should describe the evidence and the location of the evidence to the best of their ability.

In some cases, the IRS Whistleblower Office will reduce the amount awarded to the claimant.

  • Rewards must be reduced up to 10% in cases based principally on disclosure of specific allegations resulting from:
  • Judicial or administrative hearings,
  • From a governmental report, hearing, audit or investigation,
  • Or from the news media.
  • An appropriate reduction if the whistleblower “planned and initiated” the non-compliance.

It is important to seek legal advice from an experienced whistleblower law firm when you are filing an IRS award claim or providing information to the IRS. They will review your case and find out if you will be eligible for a financial award based on the IRS Program and existing tax laws.

Are Tax Whistleblowers Protected by Law?

The United States has over 50 separate whistleblower laws, each different in scope and authority. Many whistleblower laws include a retaliation provision, which protects whistleblowers from adverse actions such as wrongful termination, harassment, and punitive actions.

The best way for whistleblowers to protect themselves from retaliation is to remain completely anonymous and confidential throughout the entire whistleblowing process. While anonymous filings are not permitted by the IRS Whistleblower Program, the IRS is required to protect the confidentiality of the claimant to the fullest extent of the law.

The IRS Whistleblower Program does not contain an anti-retaliation provision. However, IRS whistleblowers may use certain state and federal laws to protect themselves from retaliation.