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Jane Doe Deer
Jane Doe Deer, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 3896
Experience:  Attorney since 1986; Plain English explanations of Landlord/Tenant & Purchase/Sale
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My girlfriend works as a property manager at a local apartment

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My girlfriend works as a property manager at a local apartment complex. She's worked there for four months. Yesterday, she learned that the porperty where she works has a tax lein against it. Her employer, however, has been depositing rents collected into an account tied to another property owned by the same company. Should she report her employer's actions to authorities, and how should she protect herself since she doesn't want to lose her job? The property is located in King County, Washington.

Thank you for contacting Just Answer. I am a WA State licensed attorney working at Just Answer under a pseudonym. I'm in Pierce County.



Answer: Let's call your girlfriend Pam. If Pam is an at will employee, no contract and no union, the employer can fire her at any time, with no reason and no notice. If she has a contract, the contract will dictate reasons for termination, usually all in favor of the employer, not the employee. In theory, and only in theory, Pam would be protected from retaliation if she reported a crime/violation of public policy to the authorities. In reality, however, she'd probably get fired, and then have to sue - expensive. So, she's sort of between a rock and hard spot.


Pam needs to question her motive for reporting this. It's the right thing to do. If the transfer of funds could ever reflect on her, and make it look like she's part of a conspiracy, then she really MUST report it, to protect herself (or quit).


That all said, one place to contact is the FBI or IRS, if the building has a FEDERAL tax lien against it. (If it were me, I'd contact the FBI at their Seattle office, or through That's only because contacting the IRS can be a major nightmare, and I don't know if they can guarantee anonymity the way the FBI may be able to.


If this is a state lien, let me know more - is it a county property tax lien? Then contact the county. Is it a business tax lien - then county the Dept of Revenue's main office, in Olympia, and talk with someone up the food chain, not a clerk.


With whomever Pam talks, she should say she wants to report what appears to be illegal reporting/transfer of income. She should ask for immunity right up front, in case someone decides to charge her, too. In other words, she should first obtain a guarantee of immunity, if possible, before providing the information - a trade, as it were.


In addition, for her own protection, Pam should sit down and write a chronology up, starting with the date she first heard of the job. The next entry is the date of her job interview. Then a chronology of when she found out, how, when, why, what, etc.


She should then sign and date the chronology, and put it away. This may be helpful to an investigating state or federal agency. Whatever she does, she should NOT tell the employer she's "on to them" or make any threats to them whatever.


Pam should also look for a new job. Even if nothing illegal is going on, it sounds like the property she is managing is headed for bankruptcy. That means she may never see her last paycheck or two, or ever get any earned leave, etc.


I will be checking my computer all day to see if you have any follow-up questions. Sorry I switched this out of "chat" but I always have computer/technical problems when I try that.


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Jane Doe Deer

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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you very much for the fast and clear response!

My girlfriend has already started a job search, and plans to not report her employer's misdeeds until she has a new job. Does she face any trouble for not reporting them promptly?

Thanks for accepting.


If she knows what is going on and does not act, a govt agency could file criminal or civil charges against her for something like conspiracy or an accessory. (I feel more comfortable discussing real estate and employment then I do criminal matters, but I'm saying it's possible).


If "Pam" does report and get immunity and a promise that her name will be kept quiet, her proactivity should keep her out of trouble. She could, however, be called sometime as a witness - that is why it's important for her to get her facts organized now, into a chronlogy, either to help her memory, or to turn over to the proper agency.


The nice thing about the FBI (versus the IRS) is that they actually answer their phones, and one can talk to a real investigator almost immediately. (If we're talking about a federal tax lien).


If Pam does get called in the future as a witness (it could be three years from now) any notes she writes up will have to be given to the "opposing side," so have her write them up neatly and professionally. She can ask for, and should receive, witness fees and reimbursement of mileage.


May I be of further help?


My best,



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