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Press Statement – Tax Whistleblower Receives $13.6 Million Dollar Award

Washington, D.C.  September 25, 2018. Whistleblower attorneys Stephen M. Kohn and Dean Zerbe are pleased to announce today that a joint client – who wishes to remain anonymous – received a whistleblower award under the new IRS whistleblower award program of $13.6 million dollars.  In this case, the whistleblower provided information that led to the government collecting over $52.6 million dollars in taxes, penalties and interest in the case. 

“We commend the IRS – and especially the Director of the IRS Whistleblower Office Lee Martin – for making this award.  We know that nothing encourages more whistleblowers to come forward then seeing the willingness of the IRS to make significant awards.  The Whistleblower Office under the leadership of Lee Martin is clearly dedicated to cutting through the red tape and the bureaucratic grind to get major awards into the hands of whistleblowers.  We are confident that the new IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig – who is quite knowledgeable about the IRS whistleblower program -- will build on this success” said Kohn and Zerbe.

Stephen Kohn of the qui tam law firm of Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto stated: “This award is one of the first, if not the first, award made by the IRS whistleblower office under the new law that clarified that tax whistleblowers should get awards based on taxpayer’s paying criminal penalties or FBAR.  Tax fraud whistleblowers should be heartened by the IRS whistleblower office’s decision to embrace this important clarification of the law.  The IRS whistleblower law is well on its way to being as important to the federal government in combatting fraud as the False Claims Act.”

Dean Zerbe of the law firm of Zerbe, Miller, Fingeret, Frank & Jadav, LP said, “With this award, the IRS is putting out the welcome mat to whistleblowers with good information about big-time tax cheats – and particularly illegal offshore accounts.  The champagne is going flat for tax lawyers in Panama and bankers in Switzerland.   A big thanks to Ms. Lisa Borenstein – who recently retired from a 40-year plus stellar career at the IRS – as well as Ms. Peggi Bockman – both of the IRS whistleblower office for their professionalism and hard work in making this award a reality.  And of course, the greatest thanks to the IRS agents, especially from IRS Criminal Investigation – who unfortunately must remain anonymous -- for their dedication and enterprise in bringing to justice those engaged in tax evasion in this matter.”

The anonymous whistleblower stated: “I want to thank my lawyers Stephen Kohn and Dean Zerbe for their extraordinary hard work and diligence.  No one thought I would get this award.  But with Steve’s years of experience representing qui tam whistleblowers and Dean’s first-hand knowledge having written the IRS whistleblower law while working as tax counsel on the Senate Finance Committee – coupled with their deep understanding of the IRS and the tax laws – I knew I was in good hands.”

Kohn and Zerbe stated: “We thank the whistleblower for the courage to come forward and put the light on tax evasion by the wealthiest of the wealthy.  This award will hopefully encourage other whistleblowers to come forward.  The IRS whistleblower award program is working.  The IRS’ arms are wide open to welcome knowledgeable whistleblowers with good, detailed information about specific individuals and companies avoiding or evading taxes.”

Stephen Kohn and Dean Zerbe represent jointly a number of tax whistleblowers – including Brad Birkenfeld, the UBS whistleblower who received an award of $104 million dollars from the IRS in 2012.  In addition, they successfully represented a whistleblower in the landmark Tax Court case of Whistleblower 21276-13W v. IRS (147 TC 121 – 2016) which resulted in a major win for whistleblowers with the definition of “collected proceeds” for whistleblower awards.  Stephen Kohn, in addition to being a partner at KKC, is also executive director of the National Whistleblower Center (NWC).  Dean Zerbe, in addition to being a partner at ZMF, is also a senior policy analyst to the NWC. 

*Photo credit: TravelingOtter _ Flickr

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The Whistleblower Blog is an editorially independent news and information source, sponsored by a pro bono public service project by Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, LLP. The blog highlights important news, legal developments and policy issues critical to whistleblowers and their advocates, both in the United States and internationally. The contributors to this blog are respected leaders in their fields, including the authors of key whistleblower law books, current and former legal professors, spokespersons before Congressional committees and other public bodies, directors of non-profit whistleblower advocacy groups, and prominent attorneys specializing in representing/assisting whistleblowers in the United States and throughout Europe, Asia, Africa and South America.