HomeFAQsIRS / Tax FraudReporting Someone to the IRS: A Whistleblowers Guide

Reporting Someone to the IRS: A Whistleblowers Guide

Reporting someone to the IRS is a multistep process which requires careful planning. This is especially true if you decide to file a report confidentially as a whistleblower. Keep in mind, the IRS does not pursue all cases. They are interested in cases where there is specific and credible information resulting in the collection of taxes, interest, penalties and other amounts from a negligent taxpayer exceeding $200,000 for an individual, and $2 million from an organization.

The IRS Whistleblower Program is one of the strongest anti-fraud award programs available to whistleblowers. Whistleblowers can receive between 15 and 30 percent of the monies collected from a successful prosecution. IRS whistleblower rewards are also available to non-U.S. citizens who report serious frauds committed by U.S. taxpayers, as well as foreign actors and entities who assist in the tax fraud, such as off-shore banking. Overall, the IRS has awarded over $1 billion to whistleblowers.

Some of the types of frauds the IRS investigates include false exemptions, kickbacks, false tax documents, unreported income, organized crime, abusive tax schemes and even the underpayment of taxes. If you know of such activity and would like to report someone to the IRS, please follow our guide below for a comprehensive overview of how to proceed.

Key Requirements

  • A whistleblower must file IRS Form 211, an Application for Award for Original Information, directly to the IRS.
  • The whistleblower’s information must be specific and credible and able to be independently corroborated.
  • The amount in dispute must exceed $2 million. The $2 million threshold can be aggregated over several tax years. If the case deals with an individual, his or her annual gross income must be more than $200,000.
  • If the IRS uses the whistleblower’s information to carry out a judicial or administrative action resulting in the collection of proceeds, a whistleblower is entitled to an award of between 15 and 30 percent of the funds collected by the IRS.

Step 1: Hire An IRS Whistleblower Attorney

We recommend hiring a whistleblower attorney to help you navigate the process of filing a report and fighting for the highest reward possible. A whistleblower attorney will ensure that a whistleblower’s claim meets all of the requirements of the IRS and can help guide a whistleblower through the complex award application process. A whistleblower must sign and file a “Power of Attorney,” IRS Form 2848 in order for the IRS to recognize the legal counsel. Recognized counsel can communicate directly with the IRS on the whistleblower’s behalf, easing the burden on the whistleblower. By hiring a whistleblower attorney, an IRS whistleblower can help guarantee they will qualify for the largest award possible.

Step 2: Gather Specific and Credible Evidence

Claims for awards that provide specific and credible information regarding tax underpayments or violations of internal revenue laws and that lead to proceeds collected may qualify for an award. According to the IRS, it is “looking for solid information, not an ‘educated guess’ or unsupported speculation.” If a whistleblower’s allegations cannot be “independently corroborated,” a claim will be denied.

Types of evidence the IRS is looking for include copies of books and records, ledger sheets, receipts, bank records, contracts, emails, and the location of assets.

A whistleblower must not violate the law in order to obtain information about tax fraud. The IRS states that “under no circumstances do we support or condone illegal actions to secure documents.” In instances where a whistleblower is aware of supporting evidence but cannot legally obtain the information, the whistleblower should carefully describe to the IRS what the documents are and where they can be found.

Step 3: Submit a Whistleblower Claim

The next step to report someone to the IRS is to file IRS Form 211, which is an Application for Award for Original Information. This document must contain the following:

  • A description of the alleged tax noncompliance, including a written narrative explaining the issue(s).
  • Information to support the narrative, such as copies of books and records, ledger sheets, receipts, bank records, contracts, emails, and the location of assets.
  • A description of documents or supporting evidence not in the whistleblower’s possession or control, and their location.
  • An explanation of how and when the whistleblower became aware of the information that forms the basis of the claim.
  • A complete description of the whistleblower’s present or former relationship (if any) to the subject of the claim (for example, family member, acquaintance, client, employee, accountant, lawyer, bookkeeper, customer).
  • The whistleblower’s original signature on the declaration under penalty of perjury (a representative cannot sign Form 211 for the whistleblower) and the date of signature.

Again, we highly suggest hiring an attorney to help you prepare these documents. Failure to provide sufficient information may result in your claim being dismissed. All communications are confidential and protected under strict attorney-client privilege. 

If you choose to submit Form 211 and supporting documents without the assistance of attorney, you will send information to the following address:

Internal Revenue Service
Whistleblower Office – ICE
1973 N Rulon White Blvd.
M/S 4110
Ogden, UT 84404
View on Google Maps

What Happens Next?

Once you’ve submitted your claim, an analyst from the IRS will process it and decide whether to reject the claim, or file it under 7623 (a) or (b) as per the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). If a claimant’s submission does not meet the criteria for IRC section 7623 (b) consideration, the IRS will consider it for the discretionary program under IRC section 7623 (a) of the Code.

The Whistleblower Office will communicate the final claim determination, in writing to the claimant. Determinations regarding awards under 7623 (b) may, within 30 days of such determination, be appealed to the US Tax Court. However, decisions under section 7623 (a) may not be appealed to the Tax Court.

How Long Does the Process Take?

The process of reporting someone to the IRS, from submission of complete information to the IRS until the proceeds are collected, may take several years. The IRS does not pay a whistleblower award until after the taxpayer exercises the right to administrative and judicial appeals, which can take many years to resolve. Note that a finding of criminal activity or fraud in a case may result in additional implications for a fraudster – this may include harsh penalties, fines or possibly even jail time.

Staffing and budgetary shortages at the IRS Whistleblower Program have led to troubling delays in the issuance of whistleblower awards. According to the IRS Whistleblower Program’s Annual Report to Congress from Fiscal Year 2020, the program currently takes 10.79 years to process a claim. However, Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto and other whistleblower advocates are actively pushing for legislative reforms to shorten these delays.

Below are a few cases that give you an idea of the time it may take:

  • Bradely Birkenfeld first made a whistleblower disclosure to the IRS in May 2007 about illegal banking practices by UBS bank in Switzerland. Birkenfeld’s disclosure and cooperation with U.S. authorities led directly to the February 2009 settlement in which UBS agreed to pay $780 million in fines, penalties, interest and restitution. Birkenfeld received his record $104 million whistleblower award in September 2012, over five years after his initial disclosure.
  • An anonymous husband and wife whistleblower team, identified only as Whistleblower 21276-13W and Whistleblower 21277-13W, first met with U.S. government agents (including IRS agents) in 2010 and began cooperating with authorities. At the time, the whistleblowers were not aware of the IRS whistleblower program. In April 2013, the whistleblowers filed a Form 211 with the IRS Whistleblower Program. In August 2013, the IRS denied the whistleblowers’ award claims but the whistleblowers filed an appeal in September 2013. Finally, in August 2016 the U.S. Tax Court issued a precedent-setting ruling awarding the whistleblowers $17,791,607.

Not all cases are treated the same by the IRS. The duration of the process depends on the severity of the case and many other complex factors. Not to mention, the amount paid to whistleblowers is quite substantial, so they must diligently investigate each eligible claim.

Since the inception of the IRS Whistleblower Reward Program, the IRS has awarded whistleblowers over a whopping $1 billion for their information. This number grows every year as more and more whistleblowers come forward with information.

Should I Report Someone to the IRS?

You should absolutely report someone to the IRS if you suspect they are cheating the system or underpaying taxes through fraudulent means. A 2018 survey conducted by the IRS showed that 95% of Americans believe everyone should properly pay their taxes, with 85% saying it’s unacceptable to cheat on taxes, and 90% saying tax cheats should be held accountable.

Tax fraud is a huge contributing factor to the United State’s enormous tax gap, the difference between taxes owed to the IRS and taxes paid. In 2021, IRS commissioner Chuck Rettig told the Senate Finance Committee that the nation’s tax gap is approximately $1 trillion. This tax gap is a huge source of inequity. A vast majority of the unpaid taxes in the tax gap are those of the nation’s wealthiest individuals and large corporations. Armed with the tools to commit tax fraud, the wealthy are able to avoid paying taxes on their assets, further deepening income inequality. Furthermore, the loss of revenue hurts funding for government funding and projects.

“The IRS Whistleblower Program plays an important role in reducing the Tax Gap by providing an avenue for reporting tax evasion,” wrote IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “Tax whistleblowers provide valuable leads and often offer unique insights into compliance challenged taxpayers. In these situations, the Whistleblower Office is charged with processing financial awards to people who provide information about the tax indiscretions of others. It can be lucrative for the informant and greatly enhance the ability of the IRS to pinpoint tax noncompliance without having to unnecessarily utilize limited tax enforcement resources.”

IRS whistleblowers have already proven to be able instigate systemic change. Bradley Birkenfeld’s whistleblower disclosures about UBS bank led to the bank paying a fine of $780 million, closing all known U.S. accounts, and turning over the names of 4450 U.S. taxpayers for prosecution in the United States. But beyond that, in a major law review article, the Chairman of the IRS Advisory Council explained how Birkenfeld’s whistleblowing ended illegal Swiss banking for most Americans, led to the closure of tens of thousands of offshore accounts, and the collection of tens of billions of dollars from tax law violators.

If you’d like assistance reporting criminal or non-criminal tax fraud or evasion, please get in touch with our whistleblower attorneys today.

Frequently Asked Questions

In order to report someone to the IRS, a whistleblower must gather specific and credible evidence regarding large-scale tax underpayments or violations of internal revenue laws. The whistleblower then must file IRS Form 211, which is an Application for Award for Original Information. By hiring an experienced whistleblower attorney, a whistleblower can help ensure their claim is of the highest quality.

The Internal Revenue Act has a highly effective tax whistleblower law that permits any IRS whistleblower to obtain between 15 to 30 percent of any collected proceeds received by the government as a result of the original information filed by the whistleblower.

We suggest hiring an experienced tax fraud attorney to improve a claim, protect your identity if you choose to keep it confidential, and maximize your chances of receiving an award.

If you choose to file a claim on your own, The New Whistleblower’s Handbook is the first-ever guide to whistleblowing, by the nation’s leading whistleblower attorney. The Handbook is an easy to read step-by-step guide to the essential tools for successfully blowing the whistle, qualifying for financial rewards, and protecting yourself.