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The Government Sends A Clear Message On Tax Evasion

If the case of Bradley Birkenfeld is any guide, the US government better hope he knew all there is to know about tax evasion because the reward for coming forward and giving the JV investigators at the IRS every detail they failed to uncover isn't looking so sweet. After coming forward and helping the IRS get back $52 million in back taxes from his former tax evasion client, the powers that be turned around and slapped the former UBSer with a stiffer penalty than both his client, Igor Olenicoff, and his boss for failing to mention that he had been involved in the scheme. While Olenicoff enjoys his two years of probation and Birkenfeld's boss is running free in Switzerland, the whistleblower will be spending the next three+ years in a federal jail.
Unless there are legions of people who just happened to stumble upon reams of detailed Swiss bank account information intended for the shredder, motivation for helping out the IRS seems hard to come by. The government has said it wants to send a strong message to tax evaders. With well thought out decisions like this one, the message is clear- don't say a word and keep your passport handy.