A Summary of IRS Criminal Investigations


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Internal Revenue Service’s is well known to American citizens, especially those who make a significant amount of money or people who are trying to avoid paying taxes. The IRS does big business in making sure the US gets its money. They do this by issuing fines, liens, and even jail time for anyone who attempts to avoid them.

IRS Criminal Investigations

Although the IRS is smaller than ever before, the department has become more and more efficient at catching you. In 1988, it would cost the government about 54 cents for every $100 spent, since 2017 it’s been reduced to 34 cents. The department has also cut spending due to them focusing on bigger cases, which could be explicitly and non-explicitly tax-related.


Tax-Related Investigations

Tax-related crimes are what the vast majority of the IRS spends their time on, with around 74% being devoted solely to these investigations. The most common tax-related crimes include:


Refund Fraud: If you add more to your refunded check, you’re committing fraud. The IRS investigates this in two ways. The QRP identifies potential fraud and prevents them from being paid out, while the RPP focuses more on the investigation that could lead to incarceration.


Identity Theft: If you steal someone’s name, social security number, or address, you’re committing fraud. The QRP and the RPP function the same way.


Cyber Crimes: If you engage in internet-based criminal acts, you’ll be fined or prosecuted. The Cyber Crimes Unit (CCU) investigates these crimes specifically, while the QRP and the RPP function in the same way.


Other Investigations: General tax fraud, abusive tax schemes, and employment tax fraud are also investigated under this umbrella.

Non-Tax-Related Investigations

These crimes are not directly related to taxation but are still investigated by the IRS.


Money Laundering: The IRS is more concerned with the money being hidden rather than the taxes you’re avoiding by hiding it. These often cross over with narcotic related crimes.


Electronic Crimes: Electronic crimes involve digital and multimedia evidence to be considered. The CIFA, SA-CIS, and Forensic Assistant Contractors all make up this team.


Narcotics and Counterterrorism: This section seeks to reduce or eliminate any person, entities, or criminal organizations that are involved in terrorism, narcotics, and money laundering.


Other Investigations: General fraud, international operations, and corruptions all fall under this umbrella.

Can I Be Investigated by the IRS?

Although it isn’t explicitly clear, other categories can be investigated by the IRS like the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and gambling fraud. To check if you’ll be potentially investigated by the IRS, check their website as the law can change yearly or monthly.

Criminal Investigation Procedures

Not only does the IRS provide information on who they investigate, but they also have their own team that investigates these individuals for them. Here’s how they do it.


Undercover Operations: Where an agent goes undercover to monitor you.


Asset Forfeiture: The IRS will take your assets to pay for the money you owe them. Your car, house, and other possessions are all up for grabs.


Forensics Analysis: Using technical services to polygraph, search electronics, latent prints, and ink chemistry they can determine where you were and what you were doing.


The Big Picture

What can you take away from all of this information?


The IRS Follows the Money: If you’ve committed tax fraud, there is a high chance the IRS will be involved in the future.


The IRS Knows What They’re Doing: It’s very unlikely you’ll stay off their radar for long, and you’ll likely be prosecuted for any criminal acts. They have multiple avenues to prove you guilty.


IRS Investigations are Rare: If you’re an average taxpayer, you’ll likely never run into any issues with the IRS. The IRS is more interested in the big fish, not the small fry.


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