Do you know an individual or business that is breaking the law regarding their tax matters with the IRS?
Have you thought about reporting them to the IRS but are afraid of retaliation?
Under three new cases from the United States Tax Court, anonymously “blowing the whistle” has become easier. In the recent Tax Court cases, the whistleblowers sought anonymity because of fear of reprisal by the person or organization on which they blew the whistle.
Typically, proceedings before any court of law, including the United States Tax Court, carry a presumption of public openness unless good cause exists to seal the court records. Tax Court Rule 345(a) allows Petitioners to seek permission to proceed anonymously if they can demonstrate a sufficient fact-basis for anonymity.
The whistleblower must present a sufficient showing of harm that outweighs counterbalancing societal interest in knowing the whistleblower’s identity. Embarrassment or harm to the whistleblower’s reputation is insufficient. These cases reassure tax whistleblowers that they can proceed anonymously in the Tax Court. Requiring whistleblowers to divulge their identity has had a chilling effect on these and other whistleblowers from coming forward. Further, whistleblowers in positions of authority can seek anonymity to avoid professional repercussions from filing a whistleblower claim.
Do you think that litigants in any court, including the United States Tax Court, should be able to remain anonymous?