During the November 17th D.C. Council meetings, the Council marked-up the False Claims Amendment Act of 2020 and passed it on first reading by an 8-5 vote. The bill now moves to second – and final – reading as soon as December 1st. If passed, the bill would expand the D.C. False Claims Act to tax matters above specified thresholds. Opposition to the bill will need to sway two votes in order to defeat it on second reading.
The bill was criticized by multiple Councilmembers, who made the following points:
- D.C. already has a framework to address tax abuses: the Office of the Chief Financial Officer and the tax fraud hotline, which allows people to report tax abuses.
- Predatory private parties may bring frivolous lawsuits against D.C. taxpayers, as they did in Illinois.
- The D.C. OCFO opposes the bill and the Multistate Tax Commission opposes applying state False Claims Acts to tax matters. In particular, the OCFO is also concerned about the extent to which it can share tax information with those bringing claims.
Second reading in the Council will be held as early as December 1st. If passed on second reading, the bill will then be sent to the Mayor to be approved or vetoed. Like other D.C. bills, the bill will then be transmitted to Congress for a 30-day period of passive review.
For more information about combating this False Claims Act expansion, please contact the Eversheds Sutherland SALT Team.