Whistleblowers to get up to $100k reward

SINGAPORE - Whistleblowers who sound the alarm about tax cheats could receive up to $100,000, after the maximum reward was raised by 10 times.

The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) increased the sum in an attempt to flush out more offenders.

"We want to encourage people to come forward... and to compensate them for any possible risks," said its assistant commissioner of investigation and forensics, Mr Wilson Ong.

The Iras will pay a reward of 15 per cent of the tax recovered, up to $100,000. Before the increase, the maximum reward was $10,000.

Mr Ong said whistleblowers will be paid only if their information leads to taxes being recovered. They must also identify themselves to Iras when providing the tip-off if they want to receive the money.

"Based on our records, not all informers want to be rewarded," he said. "In fact, more than 50 per cent of informers do not want rewards. They share the information with us for more altruistic reasons, such as to ensure the fairness of the tax system."

Mr Ong said the reward scheme had been around for at least 20 years. He added that the largest sum paid out to date was $10,000, to a senior staff member who felt "very uncomfortable" with his company's practices.

The whistleblower's boss was trying to evade paying "a significant amount" of corporate income tax and ended up with a multi-million-dollar penalty after being caught.

Tax experts who spoke to The Sunday Times said offering money to informants is a common practice in other countries such as the United States and Britain.

They added that the Iras' bigger cash rewards give those in the know about possible wrong-doing a stronger financial motivation to blow the whistle.

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