There's a new sheriff in town and his name is John Doe. And he may be in the cubicle next to you. Under a newly amended rule from the Internal Revenue Service, ordinary citizens can help the tax man cometh, or at least collect. The new Whistleblower Office is the IRS's attempt to give incentives for you to rat out the tax cheats you know.
That's right. If your employer, co-worker, landlord, neighbor or father-in-law is raking in fistfuls of cash and bypassing Uncle Sam, you can anonymously report the abuse to the IRS and snag a windfall from their dishonesty.
As long as the total amount of tax fraud comes out to at least $2 million (including penalties, interest, and whatever else the government ultimately collects based on your report), you can get a 15 to 30 percent cut.
The IRS modeled the new program on the Department of Justice's successful False Claims Act, which has been in place since the Civil War era and attracts tips about fraudulent claims against federal government programs. In 2006 alone, the government recovered more than $1.4 billion through that law.
Ratting on your boss or ex-husband might sound sleazy, but whistleblowers have taken on a more venerable image in recent years. That's especially true since the Enron era, when the few employees who spoke up about the company's misconduct were seen as turned from Cassandras to folk heroes after the full extent of wrongdoing came to light.