Ben is a recent college graduate with an accounting degree, who was hired by a respected non-profit organization, to manage their internal and external reporting. The organization collects donated medical supplies from US producers, and ships them to countries in need. The organization was thinly-staffed and under a lot of stress. Ben soon realized that there was no system in place for the organization to monitor the value of the donated supplies for tax purposes. He had to trust that the donaters were giving him the correct values. He knew that it would be beneficial for the donaters to inflate the values of their products for their own tax purposes, and wondered whether they could be cheating the IRS. Ben wondered how much it mattered, people in need were still receiving the medical supplies. He worried that if he were to question the donaters, or make them provide proof of value, he would deter them from donating the much needed supplies. He also considered that his boss must have known about this issue and did not seem to think it was a priority. It seemed to be the organization’s belief that a company who donates items is probably altruistic and would provide an honest value. She had told him that it’s all about helping people in need, we don’t care about data. He was quite certain that some of the donaters were cheating the IRS and he did not want to enable their deceitfulness. However, he was happy to be hired right out of college for such a respected organization. Is it his place to say something?
Which is more important, getting people in need their medical supplies, or making sure companies are honest on their taxes?
What would happen to Ben’s career if he were known as a “whistle blower”? Does it matter for the sake of honesty?