The purpose of the IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS CI) Division is to investigate criminal violations of the Internal Revenue Code and other related financial crimes to ensure compliance with the law and public confidence in our tax system.
Every year, the IRS CI releases an annual report of the agency’s priorities and successes for the previous fiscal year. Following are some highlights from the agency’s 2017 Annual Report.
Tax and Other Financial Crimes: Investigations and Convictions
In 2017, the IRS CI spent 72.5% of its investigative time on tax cases which resulted in 1,303 sentences. These included cases involving general tax fraud, abusive tax schemes, employment tax fraud, refund fraud, tax-related identity theft and data compromises. 14.7% of its investigative time was spent on non-tax crimes such as corporate fraud, general fraud, public corruption and money laundering – these investigations resulted in 1,246 sentences.
The department boasts a conviction rate of 91.5%.
Additional IRS CI Programs and Specialized Units
Over the past few years, the IRS CI has initiated a number of additional programs and specialized units:
- Since 2015, the Cyber Crimes Unit (CCU) conducts investigations of criminal activities involving the internet and internet-based technologies (e.g., data intrusion, buying and selling of personally identifiable information, email and phishing schemes, virtual currency tax and money laundering schemes, bank account takeovers, dark web vendors, etc.).
- The Office of International Operations (IO) combats abusive offshore tax schemes, money laundering, transnational organized crime (meaning, operations in more than one country), terrorism financing, and other financial crimes involving overseas activities. Special agents work in foreign countries to uncover new tax schemes implemented by promoters, enablers, and financial institutions who help U.S. taxpayers evade their federal tax obligations. The IO department also collaborates with foreign tax and law enforcement agencies with educational initiatives, investigations, and with the sharing of information and investigative techniques.
- The Narcotics and Counterterrorism (NCT) program utilizes a number of strategies to combat narcotics trafficking, terrorist financing, and money laundering, with a focus on dismantling large criminal organizations. Since 2017, an IRS CI “jump team” has been responding to financial leads immediately following a terrorist incident.
- The Global Illicit Financial Team (GIFT) is a specialized unit within the IRS CI that was established in 2010 to work with partner agencies in the investigation of international crime organizations that are involved in the illegal movement of money.
- The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) was formed in 2003 to regulate and collect taxes on the trade and import of alcohol, tobacco, firearms and ammunition within the United States.
- Since 2013, the Swiss Bank Program has brought special agents from the IRS CI together with Department of Justice (DOJ) attorneys to dismantle major international tax schemes that have been “identified as systemic threats to the integrity and fairness of the tax administration.”
- Launched in May 2017, the Nationally Coordinated Investigations Unit (NCIU) develops and manages national initiatives (education, training, resources, support) that have been identified as high impact and national in scope – these include microcap stock fraud, employment tax violations, international banking violations, and biofuel/RIN tax credit fraud.
More than half of the Annual Report is comprised of descriptions of successful IRS CI investigations and prosecutions throughout the country.
California criminal tax defense attorneys
The tax attorneys at Moskowitz, LLP want to keep you off the IRS CI radar – and off its Annual Report. We will aggressively represent you during a civil audit and/or criminal investigation and defend you against any type of criminal tax charge. If you are in tax trouble or have otherwise engaged in illegal financial activities, contact our San Francisco office today.