Press Statement – Tax Whistleblower Receives $11.6 Million Dollar Award

Attorneys Stephen 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 $11.6 million dollars.

“We greatly appreciate the IRS recognizing the work of this whistleblower and for making this significant, major award. We commend the IRS for this fair and equitable determination of the whistleblower’s award amount and percentage. The whistleblower’s work translated into tens of millions of dollars recovered by the US Treasury,” said Kohn and Zerbe.

Stephen Kohn of the law firm of Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto (KKC) stated: “The good news is the IRS Whistleblower Office continues to show a willingness to make major awards to individuals who come forward and speak out against tax evasion. There is no question that whistleblowers need to be patient – but today’s award is an important step in bolstering confidence in the IRS whistleblower program. There are still steps and hurdles for the IRS whistleblower program – but this is an important day for the continued success of the IRS whistleblower program. We are also encouraged by the IRS’s commitment to honor the complete confidentiality of whistleblower’s who want to remain anonymous and who understand that the revelation of their identity would have catastrophic impact on their lives and careers.”

Dean Zerbe of the law firm of Zerbe, Fingeret, Frank & Jadav (ZFF&J) stated: “Today’s award shows the IRS recognizes that the whistleblower program is a key part of IRS efforts to go after tax fraud and tax evasion. However, the IRS is only scratching the surface of the potential role whistleblowers can play in collecting tax from big-time tax cheats. The IRS has a strong interest in hearing from – and rewarding — whistleblowers who know about tax cheats. From conversations I have had with senior IRS officials, the IRS is especially interested in hearing from whistleblowers who know details about the latest corporate tax shelters as well as informed whistleblowers who have knowledge about US taxpayers with illegal offshore accounts around the world – especially Hong Kong, Singapore and Central America. “

Both Kohn and Zerbe recognized the leadership of Senator Grassley, who as founder and co-chair of the Congressional Whistleblower Caucus continues to ensure that the government treats whistleblowers fairly. Whistleblowers would not be nearly as willing to come forward and speak the truth but for Senator Grassley serving as their constant and unflagging champion.

Kohn and Zerbe also commended the hard work of the IRS examiners and investigators who worked closely with the whistleblower and used the whistleblower’s information to successfully bring this enforcement action. In this regard, they expressed gratitude to the IRS Whistleblower Office – particularly Dawn Applebaum — in going the extra mile in the painstaking work required to ensure the whistleblower received a fair award. They also thanked Steve Whitlock for his leadership and dedication in the difficult role of establishing the IRS Whistleblower Office and serving as its first Director. Ms. Applebaum and Mr. Whitlock have moved onto new roles, but have left their mark on the program and will be greatly missed.

In addition, Kohn and Zerbe recognize the important help of Kenneth Chatham for getting this award over the finish line – and for his constant courtesy and professionalism as well as the new Director of the IRS Whistleblower Office, Lee Martin, for ensuring that the transition to new leadership was handled without disruption. Whistleblowers and their counsel look forward to working with Mr. Martin in the days and months ahead. Finally, Kohn and Zerbe thank Commissioner Koskinen for his strong vocal support for the IRS Whistleblower program and tax whistleblowers. “It is important that IRS employees hear from the top that whistleblowers should be encouraged and awarded,” said Kohn and Zerbe.

Stephen Kohn and Dean Zerbe represent jointly a number of whistleblowers – including Brad Birkenfeld, the UBS whistleblower who received an award of $104 million dollars from the IRS – the largest amount ever paid to a single whistleblower. 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 ZFF&J, is also an advisor to the NWC.

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