Obama’s Budget Proposes to Shield IRS Whistleblowers from Retaliation

by Ashley Tease

Whistleblowers can temporarily rejoice as President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2014 Budget proposes to protect people who disclose tax evasion to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.  A sticking point for lawmakers and lawyers advocating on behalf of persons who report tax cheats to the IRS is the implementation of anti-retaliation protections.

In the 1986 amendments to the False Claims Act, Congress added employee whistleblower protections to offer retaliation victims remedies such as back pay, reinstatement, and special damages including attorneys’ fees.   Further, in 2011, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) implemented the whistleblower incentives and protections of section 922 and 748 of the Dodd-Frank Act.  Under, President Obama’s plan for 2014, the law would explicitly provide these long awaited protections for IRS whistleblowers.

Anti-retaliation protections are especially crucial for employees who report on employer tax evasion schemes because they help stop employers from using the threat of retaliation to hush whistleblowers.  Additionally, such protections assure whistleblowers that they are legally protected from retaliatory acts and encourage employees to blow the whistle on employers who defraud the government by hiding revenue in offshore accounts or altering financial records.