The IRS’s Criminal Investigation (CI) section “serves” the American public by investigating potential criminal violations of the Internal Revenue Code and related financial crimes. Their stated goal is to “fosters confidence in the tax system and compliance with the law”.


The IRS’s Criminal Investigation section is comprised of approximately 2,900 Special Agents whose investigative jurisdiction includes tax, money laundering and Bank Secrecy Act laws.

The IRS is the only federal agency that can investigate potential criminal violations of the Internal Revenue Code.

Compliance with the tax laws in the United States relies heavily on self-assessments of what tax is owed. This is called voluntary compliance. When individuals and corporations make deliberate decisions to not comply with the law, they face the possibility of a civil audit or criminal investigation which could result in prosecution and possible jail time.

As financial investigators, the Criminal Investigation section’s Special Agents use modern methods to combat sophisticated schemes to defraud the government. Investigators are trained to wade through complex paper and computerized financial records.

Special Agents are trained to recover computer evidence. Along with their financial investigative skills, special agents use specialized forensic technology to recover financial data that may have been encrypted, password protected, or hidden by other electronic means.

Caution: Their conviction rate is one of the highest in federal law enforcement. Not only do the courts hand down substantial prison sentences, but those convicted must also pay fines, civil taxes and penalties.

The IRS’s Priorities

The Criminal Investigation section has the job of investigating and assisting in the prosecution of financial investigations that will generate the maximum deterrent effect, enhance voluntary compliance, and promote public confidence in the tax system.

In Other Words – Create Fear

So what does all this really boil down to? Publicity of these tax convictions provides a deterrent effect that enhances voluntary compliance. The IRS uses criminal prosecution to increase fear in the general public. Their stated goal, in almost as many words, is to scare the pants off anyone who would even think about not filing their tax returns or not paying their taxes.

Let me quote from the IRS’s own web site telling us what their goals are to: “generate the maximum deterrent effect, enhance voluntary compliance, and promote public confidence in the tax system.”

I doubt they are successful in promoting “public confidence in the tax system”, but I do know that they successfully generate fear amongst he general public.

The problem is that their scare tactics work too well. A lot of delinquent tax payers are so scared that they will not come forward to deal with their tax problem because they are scared that they will be criminally prosecuted.