Monday, May 9, 2016

Whistleblowers Do Not Get Paid For FBAR Civil Penalties

Whistleblowers Do Not Get Paid For FBAR Civil Penalties In a recent case entitled: Whistleblower 22716-13W, 146 T.C. No. 6 (2016), the Tax Court determined that the $2 million nondiscretionary award threshold under I.R.C. Section 7623(b)(5)(B) is not met when turning someone in for failing to file a Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR) (Form TD F 90-22.1) under 31 U.S.C. Section 5321(a). The amounts owed pursuant to 31 U.S.C. Section 5321(a) are not to be included because they are not taxes in the I.R.C. In Whistleblower 22716-13W, the petitioner sought an award and filed Form 211, Application for Award for Original Information with the Whistleblower Office of the IRS. The taxpayer that was turned in pled guilty and paid an FBAR civil penalty on his Swiss Bank accounts. But the Tax Court ruled that a whistleblower is only eligible for a nondiscretionary award under Section 7623(b) “if the tax, penalties, interest, additions to tax, and additional amounts in dispute exceed” $2 million (Section 7623(b)(5)(B)). Since FBAR civil penalties are imposed and collected under a different Title of the U.S. Code (31 U.S.C. section 5321) they do not constitute “additional amounts” for purposes of ascertaining whether the $2 million threshold has been met. The court did, in fact, concede that the statute would offer stronger incentives to whistleblowers if FBAR civil penalties were included like tax liabilities for purposes of whistleblower award eligibility under Section 7623(b)(5)(B). The court ruled though that it was up to Congress to determine eligibility for the award, not the Court.

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