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Media company Viacom accused of hatching plan to defraud IRS

Let's be honest, no one wants to or enjoys paying taxes. That being said, the penalties exacted by the U.S. government against tax dodgers are stiff and include hefty fines, criminal charges and time behind bars. Despite the high stakes imposed upon those who are charged with tax crimes, hoping to fly under the Internal Revenue Service's radar, every year U.S. citizens and companies alike engage in questionable or illegal activities to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

The alleged tax evasion practices of the U.S. company Viacom are at the center of a lawsuit that was recently filed by a former Vice President turned whistleblower. In the lawsuit, the former VP accuses the giant media company, which owns Paramount Pictures and MTV, of violating federal anti-corruption laws including the Dodd-Frank Act and Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Specifically, Viacom is accused of taking steps to "move licensing rights" of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob SquarePants to the Netherlands, in an attempt to avoid paying millions of dollars in U.S. taxes. The plan included a scheme to hire an employee in the Netherlands to make minor changes to existing contracts to make it appear as though all contract work took place in the Netherlands.

In the lawsuit, the former VP of financial planning and analysis asserts that she was fired while on maternity leave in retaliation for voicing her objections to the tax evasion plan to her superiors. In response to the lawsuit and allegations, Viacom denies any wrongdoing and insists that the Plaintiff was fired for "fraudulently claiming company benefits," by naming the father of her child as her spouse.

The plaintiff is seeking back pay and either the reinstatement of her position at Viacom or compensation related thereto.

Source: NBC News, "Viacom Whistleblower Alleges Ninja Turtles Tax Fraud Plan," Reuters, Jan. 5, 2016

New York Post, "Viacom whistleblower says there’s something fishy with ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’, " Lia Eustachewich, Jan. 5, 2016

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