New Mexico’s law rewards those who report misuse of taxpayer funds

Both income taxes and property taxes fund many government programs. The public coffers furnish everything from railroad maintenance to healthcare for those with limited income.

At the federal level, there are laws that encourage people to act as whistleblowers when they realize their employer has engaged in fraudulent billing. New Mexico also has unique state-level laws that serve both to protect those who act as whistleblowers about the misuse of public funds and reward them for drawing attention to the issue.

The Fraud Against Taxpayers Act (FATA) creates the framework for the state to take action against businesses that negatively impact state finances through fraud or tax evasion.

How does FATA work?

Essentially, the New Mexico Attorney General has the right to bring legal action against business entities that misuse public funds, fraudulently bill the government or intentionally underpay their tax obligations.

In fact, the state can actually seek up to three times the amount of misused funds or unpaid taxes from the business. Whistleblowers who work at companies engaged in questionable activities can report the issues they notice at the company to state authorities for an investigation.

If the Attorney General decides to move forward with the case, the person who makes the report has whistleblower protection against retaliation by their employer. They can also receive a percentage of the funds recovered if the legal case against their employer is successful. That reward can help offset the potential personal or career consequences of acting as a whistleblower.

Understanding how FATA works is the first step toward speaking up and doing what is right as a New Mexico employee. If you’re considering action as a whistleblower, consider speaking with an experienced attorney before you decide your next move.

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