Reg Watch

The IRS has proposed updates to the whistleblower program for reporting tax fraud.

The agency published a 65-page notice on Tuesday that is meant to provide guidelines for both the general public and IRS employees about the program, which offers financial rewards for tipsters.

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The IRS pays rewards of between 15 and 30 percent of the recovered net proceeds to whistleblowers after successful actions against tax fraud or underpayment, but would like to establish a “fixed-percentage approach” to avoid “having to draw fine distinctions that might seem unfair and arbitrary.” 

Another proposed change would allow for two or more separate claims for the same instance of tax fraud to qualify for rewards. Currently, the statute is set up to award the whistleblower that submits information first. 

While the whistleblower program guarantees confidentially in some cases, the notice from the IRS said a desire to remain anonymous could be considered a “negative factor” that could be reason to reduce the amount of an award.

The IRS has already ruled that some people are not eligible for the whistleblower awards. Those individuals include Treasury employees or those who are required by federal law to report tax fraud based on their positions in the private or public sector.


CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau   (CFPB) said $11.50 would be the maximum fee that consumer-reporting agencies can charge individuals seeking information about their credit score in 2012.

The agency is required by law to adjust the fee limits each year to remain in line with the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U). When the Fair Credit Reporting Act took effect in 1997, the maximum fee was $8. 

Since last year, the CPI-U has increased by 42.74 percent. When that increase is factored into the base credit-reporting fee of $8, the maximum fee adds up to $11.42, or $11.50 when rounded up.


Elsewhere: The Department of Defense, the General Services Administration and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration  (NASA) are proposing to extend a temporary policy implemented by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in July to ensure that small businesses subcontracting with the government are paid quickly. 

Under the Prompt Payment Act, a federal agency is “generally required” to make payments to a contractor or vendor within 30 days from when the agency receives the invoices and “proper documentation.” The goal is to make the payments within 15 days after receiving the completed documents. 

In July, OMB expanded the provision to federal agencies, asking them to take steps to encourage primary contractors to expedite payment to small-business subcontractors. 

The three agencies are now proposing to extend the program past the deadline.