The IRS rewards whistleblowers who come forward and report attempts to evade taxes. One whistleblower received a record amount of money for reporting on the activities of UBS AG in facilitating tax evasion. That whistleblower is now assisting France with its own investigation into UBS and the testimony he provides is expected to significantly increase pressure on the bank.
Whistleblower incentives are one of many tools that authorities have in their arsenal when it comes to fighting global tax evasion. Authorities, not just in the United States but worldwide, have begun cracking down on tax evasion and going after people with undeclared offshore accounts.
If you have any money offshore that you have not reported to the government, there is a good chance that the IRS is going to discover your account if they have not already.
Talking to a New Jersey criminal tax lawyer is important if you are under investigation by the IRS for holding undeclared funds offshore. If you are not under investigation yet, you should think about taking the preemptive step of calling a lawyer now to explore options for voluntarily disclosing the accounts in order to limit penalties.
Whistleblower Continues to Aid Taxing Authorities in Their Investigations
The whistleblower who provided assistance with the U.S. investigation and who will be testifying in France is named Bradley Birkenfeld. He began providing information about UBS AG to the United States in 2007. His information was instrumental to an investigation into whether the bank was intentionally helping United States clients hide the existence of offshore accounts in order to evade their obligations to pay taxes in the United States.
The information provided by Birkenfeld, along with other evidence the United States uncovered, resulted in UBS AG entering into a settlement that involved a deferred prosecution agreement. UBS AG paid a total of $780 million in penalties as part of the agreement. The bank had allegedly used the strict privacy laws in Switzerland to help many clients avoid reporting accounts and income to the IRS.
Birkenfeld’s information did more than just result in UBS paying millions to U.S. authorities. Because of the information he provided, Switzerland was forced to change its treaty with the United States and the largest bank in Switzerland was forced to turn over the names of 4,900 U.S. citizens who had offshore accounts at the bank.
Birkenfeld received a total of $104 million as his IRS whistleblower incentive. Awards are based on the amount of money the IRS is able to recover. He is now cooperating with the investigation into tax evasion in France and will provide documents and testimony.
With such huge incentives, it seems likely that other whistleblowers may also come forward in the future. U.S. authorities will use information from those who speak out about offshore bank activity, as well as other information uncovered in investigations, to go after U.S. investors.
If your money is offshore and not reported, you need to talk to Kevin Thorn, a criminal tax lawyer, about what you may be able to do to minimize the chances of criminal prosecution and large financial penalties if the IRS finds out about your accounts.