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IRS Investigation

IRS InvestigationAn IRS investigation can lead to prosecution and possibly conviction—the consequences can include severe financial penalties and prison. Alarmingly, taxpayers might not even know they are being investigated. By the time an IRS Special Agent shows up bearing an IRS Summons, prosecution may be imminent.  While the citizen sat unprepared, the IRS investigation was quietly moving forward.

Good Citizens and IRS Investigation

Good citizens may be shocked to find themselves the subject of an IRS investigation. They may feel that they have filed honest returns in good faith based on professional advice. The IRS, though, doesn’t always take into account the citizen's honesty or good intent. It will prosecute ordinary citizens—small businesspersons, ministers, and the elderly—as readily as it prosecutes tax cheats. IRS investigations are invasive, intensive, and designed to win convictions. There can be severe and ruinous financial penalties and even prison sentences for those convicted—even for those who acted with no intent to defraud the United States government.

Initiation of an IRS Criminal Investigation

The IRS criminal investigation can come from a number of places—a revenue agent (auditor), a revenue officer (collections), a report from a bank under the Bank Secrecy Act, various money laundering statutes, the general public, and investigations by other enforcement agencies or by United States Attorneys. (1) An IRS Special Agent is then assigned to determine if criminal tax fraud or some other financial crime may have occurred. Then, after the investigation is opened, the IRS Special Agent works to obtain the elements of criminal activity. In other words, the Special Agent puts together a case to prove that the individual committed a crime. In short, the “ultimate goal of an IRS Criminal Investigation prosecution recommendation is to obtain a conviction or plea.” (1)

Are You Under an IRS Investigation?

Threatening letters from an IRS Revenue Agent or Revenue Officer, or threats of an audit, do not mean one is the subject of a criminal IRS investigation—but they can be preliminary steps toward that. In fact, IRS investigation proceedings may already have begun, or worse, may be in an advanced stage. Has (un)armed IRS Special Agent contacted your friends, family members, or coworkers? Has the IRS Special Agent pressured them for personal or financial information about you? Has the IRS Special Agent threatened them with legal action? Worse, have the threatening letters and phone calls from the IRS stopped? If so, this might be because your case has been handed over to the criminal investigators for criminal tax evasion/fraud. If you suspect or know that you are under IRS investigation, it is important to immediately see qualified legal counsel. The longer you wait, the more time you could be a sitting duck while the IRS sets up its case against you.

For more information, see IRS Investigative Team, IRS Summons, or Criminal Tax Evasion / Fraud.

(1) IRS website, How Criminal Investigations Are Initiated,