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What are the Qui Tam Statute of Limitations?

Qui Tam Statute

Qui Tam StatuteQui Tam lawsuits are brought by private citizens on behalf of the federal government in instances of fraud by persons or corporations . Many of these cases involve health care fraud by pharmacies, hospitals or others for drugs or services through Medicare and Medicaid, both federal governmental programs. Both the federal government and the whistleblower benefit. And like all matters of litigation, statutes of limitations, limiting the time in which the suit may be brought, apply. Once the qui tam statute of limitations has expired the case cannot be brought.

Whistleblower lawsuits (or qui tam ) have become an integral part of the enforcement of the False Claims Act.

The statute of limitations for a qui tam action is found in Section 3731(b) of the False Claims Act. A civil action may not be brought more than six years after the date on which the alleged violation of the False Claims Act is committed, or more than three years after the date on which material facts giving rise to the cause of action are either known or reasonably should have been known, and in no event more than ten years after the violation of the Act.
If this appears confusing, it is. In essence, the second half of this provision tolls the qui tam statute of limitations, providing the government a longer period of time in which to file suit, an additional three years. The question is whether this tolling provision applies in situations in which a private person, or “relator,” or whistleblower brings the suit on behalf of the government. And on this question, the courts are split. In the majority of federal jurisdictions, the courts have ruled that the tolling provision does not apply to the whistleblower. However, there are jurisdictions in which the courts have applied the tolling statutes to the individual whistleblower, effectively extending the statute of limitations.
In addition, in these cases, there is always a question about the date that the violation occurs. Most courts have held that the violation occurs on the date that the false claim is submitted. Other jurisdictions have held that the statute starts to run when the claim is actually paid. This further complicates the issue of the statute of limitations.
Finally, there is a Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act that further tolls the statute of limitations when the United States is at war. Courts have applied this further tolling of the statute of limitations, ruling that the statute of limitations for whistleblower cases has been tolled since 2002 when Congress passed the Iraq War Resolution.
This is a complex area of law and an attorney’s help is needed to navigate the Qui Tam Statute of Limitations and how they are applied within any given jurisdiction.

How to File a Whistleblower Claim under IRS Whistleblower Protection Laws

IRS Whistleblower Protection Laws

IRS Whistleblower Protection LawsAlerting the internal revenue service (IRS) with information that you believe a person or business has violated the tax law is provided for under the IRS Whistleblower Protection Laws. The whistleblower has the potential of receiving a hefty reward if the information provided culminates in the IRS collecting the taxes and finds that the information provided “substantially contributed to the collection of tax.” The award is based on a percentage of the amount collected ranging from 15 to 30 percent.

How to file a claim under IRS whistleblower protection laws

There are certain criteria that the alleged IRS taxpayer violator must meet in order for the IRS to accept the whistleblower claim for investigation:

  • The total amount for collections, including unpaid taxes, interest and penalties must exceed $2 million.
  • Individual taxpayers who are reported must have gross earnings in excess of $200,000 for the taxable year that is under investigation.

If you believe the person or company you are reporting meet these criteria, your report must be filed on a specific IRS form and include:

  • As estimate of the amount of taxes you believe is owed.
  • A summary of all the facts upon which you base your claim.
  • An explanation of how you gained your knowledge of the alleged violation.

Your claim must be filed under penalty of perjury.  If the IRS decides to pursue the claim and determines you played any part in the company decision to underpay taxes, you will not receive any reward and may be criminally prosecuted for those actions.

Although the IRS pledges to protect the identity of the whistleblower as much as possible, you may be called to testify in a judicial hearing if  you are deemed to be “an essential witness.” If the IRS determines in cannot proceed without your testimony, it will notify you and give you the option of remaining anonymous and not pursuing the case, thereby giving up any claim to a reward.

After filing the claim, you  will not be privy to any information concerning IRS actions against the taxpayer or any specific information about the status of the case. You will only be told whether the case is open, denied, closed and payable and the amount of the award that you can expect to receive. It may take years for you to collect your reward since the reward is not paid until the entire amount of the taxes, interest and penalties in question have been collected.

The process is complicated and you need the assistance of attorneys who are dedicated to representing whistleblowers. At the Bothwell Law Group, we have the experience you need for filing your claim under the IRS whistleblower protection laws. We  work diligently to pursue your claim and protect your identity. Contact us today.