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Friday, July 13, 2007

IRS Now Authorized to Reward Whistleblowers

Thomas Poulin - Copyright ©2007

On February 2, 2007, The Internal Revenue Service named Stephen A. Whitlock as director of its new Whistleblower Office, where he will be responsible for administering the program designed to receive information that helps uncover tax cheating and to provide appropriate rewards to whistleblowers. In late December, President Bush signed the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 which includes reforms aimed at strengthening tax fraud detection. The new law contains whistleblower reward provisions similar to the federal False Claims Act. The IRS is authorized to pay rewards to whistleblowers for informing the IRS of underpayments of tax and bringing to trial and punishing persons guilty of violating the internal revenue laws. Amounts are paid based on a percentage of the tax, fines, and penalties actually collected by the government based on the information provided by the whistleblower.

The law rewards individuals who provide information regarding violations of the tax laws to the government that involve an individual whose gross income exceeds $200,000 for any taxable year, which includes tax, penalties, and interest of over $2 million.

The whistleblower reward is between 15% and 30% of the amount actually collected by the government, including penalties, interest, additions to tax and additional amounts if the IRS moves forward with an administrative or judicial action based on information brought to the IRS’s attention by an individual, or reaches a settlement. The reward depends on how substantial the whistleblower's contributions were to the IRS action. Under certain specified circumstances, the provision permits awards of lesser amounts. The new law also allows payment of the whistleblower’s attorneys’ fees and costs.

The law also creates a Whistleblower Office within the IRS to administer the reward program. The government estimates that the new law will raise $32 million over five years and $182 million over ten years.

Lawyers at Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. are currently representing whistleblowers and investigating claims on behalf of whistleblowers who allege underpayments to and fraud on the government. If you wish to consult with a lawyer who handles whistleblower cases, please call Tom Poulin at 202.736.2748.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ex-'Grey's' Star Cites Racism for Firing

By Associated Press

LOS ANGELES - "Grey's Anatomy" star Isaiah Washington said racism was a factor in his firing from the hit ABC series after he twice used an anti-gay slur.

Washington, who initially used the epithet during an onset clash with a co-star, told Newsweek magazine that "someone heard the booming voice of a black man and got really scared and that was the beginning of the end for me."

He tried to make amends by expressing remorse and volunteering to enter a counseling program to understand how the confrontation got out of hand, he told Newsweek.

"My mistake was believing that I would get the support from my network and all of my cast mates across the board. My mistake was believing I could correct a wrong with honesty and sincerity," he said in the interview posted online Thursday.

"My mistake was thinking black people get second chances. I was wrong on all fronts," he said.

His unwillingness to act like a submissive black at work was part of the problem, Washington said.

"Well, it didn't help me on the set that I was a black man who wasn't a mush-mouth Negro walking around with his head in his hands all the time. I didn't speak like I'd just left the plantation and that can be a problem for people sometime," he said.

"I had a person in human resources tell me after this thing played out that `some people' were afraid of me around the studio. I asked her why, because I'm a 6-foot-1, black man with dark skin and who doesn't go around saying `Yessah, massa sir' and `No sir, massa' to everyone?

"It's nuts when your presence alone can just scare people, and that made me a prime candidate to take the heat in a dysfunctional family," he said.

ABC declined comment Thursday. In its one public statement regarding Washington, issued in January, the network said his actions were "unacceptable."

Washington, who used the slur against co-star T.R. Knight during a confrontation with Patrick Dempsey, repeated the word backstage at the Golden Globes in January in denying the first incident. A public apology to Knight and others followed.

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