By Stephen Ohlemacher, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — Dangle some cash and a lot of people are happy to turn in their employers for cheating on their taxes.
Since Congress beefed up whistleblower rewards in late 2006, tips about suspected tax cheats owing at least $2 million have jumped more than tenfold, the Internal Revenue Service said in a report Thursday.
In 2008, the agency received tips on 1,246 suspected tax dodgers, each owing more than $2 million. That's up from 116 big-money tips in 2007.
IRS officials, however, don't know yet whether many of the tips will pan out. The report says the IRS is still in the middle of the lengthy process of conducting audits and processing appeals.
One key lawmaker praised the program but prodded the IRS to move faster on the cases.
"The tax code improvements are still new, and I hope more whistleblowers will come forward as word gets out," said Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the senior Republican on the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee.
The 2006 law targets high-income tax dodgers, guaranteeing rewards for qualified whistleblowers if the company in question owes a least $2 million in unpaid taxes, interest and penalties. Tips about individuals also qualify if the taxpayer has an income of at least $200,000.
The report, by the agency's whistleblower office, focuses on cases in which taxpayers owe more than $2 million.
Among the tips received in 2008:
— 228 accuse suspected tax dodgers of owing more than $10 million.
— 64 accuse suspected tax dodgers of owing more than $100 million.
The IRS does not have data on the number of tips it received on such big-money cases before the 2006 law was enacted, according to the report.