How Does the IRS Choose the Cases It Is Going to Prosecute Criminally?

So the IRS has very limited resources when it comes to criminal investigations and it's very selective about the cases that it shares so oftentimes it chooses cases based on wanting to send a message to the general population about cheating on their taxes. So that's why a lot of the times you'll see celebrities targeted for tax investigations because by putting a celebrity behind bars or subjecting them to a criminal prosecution, it's going to send a message to the general populace. A lot of the times you see prominent figures within a community or politicians being prosecuted for tax cases and again it's about sending the same message but the IRS also has enforcement priorities and it has enforcement priorities on the criminal investigative side. So one of the big problems with the criminal investigative unit is payroll tax. They've been going after a lot of payroll tax cases recently in order to put a stamp on payroll tax compliance and send the message that if you don't comply with the payroll tax laws in the US, you can get prosecuted criminally. Similarly right around April 15th every year you'll go to the Department of Justice's website and you'll see a whole bunch of press releases because they put a bunch of tax preparers in jail or they indict them. That's another thing - tax preparers are a huge source of problems for the IRS. So the criminal investigative unit really picks and chooses its cases. If you become aware that a CIA agent is investigating you, you have to be very careful for that particular reason because their investigations are so focused, because they're so targeted, because so much goes into these investigations and because they're so selective. They really make sure they take every effort possible to get their man, to get their woman and put them behind bars so when there's a CI case you have to be very careful because you have to understand they have a lot of discretion over which cases that they process.


Sam Brotman, JD, LLM, MBA

Owner and Director of Legal
Brotman Law