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IRS Criminal Investigation releases annual report of tax crimes

The Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division (CI) has released its annual report detailing the investigation of tax-related criminal activity. Every year, the agency releases this report in order to highlight its major accomplishments in pursuing financial crime. This year's report shows a decrease in the number of cases that the CI was able to investigate, but a remarkably high conviction rate for the cases that it did pursue.

The CI is responsible for investigating criminal violations of the Internal Revenue code. These crimes can include fraud, identify theft, public corruption, terrorist financing, money laundering and international tax enforcement, to name just a few. With 2,159 special agents devoted to investigating financial crime, the agency was able to investigate 3,019 criminal cases in the fiscal year 2017. This is a marked decrease from 2016, when the agency had 2,761 special agents who were able to pursue 3,395 cases. Still, the cases that the CI recommended for prosecution this year had a conviction rate of a whopping 91.5 percent.

Currently, the CI is the only law enforcement agency in the country that has jurisdiction over federal tax crimes. In 2017, it spent about 70 percent of its investigative time examining criminal cases. Despite this effort, financial crime has abounded in recent years, largely due to the rise of the internet. It doesn’t help that the number of CI special agents has decreased by 21 percent since 2011, severely weakening the division’s ability to pursue cases. That the agency was able to investigate thousands of cases with such a high conviction rate is a testament to its dedication and thoroughness in the investigation of tax-related crimes.

By the numbers

According to the complete report, in fiscal year 2017 the Criminal Investigation Division was able to investigate:

  • 3,019 total cases
  • 374 cases of identity theft
  • 1.096 cases of money laundering
  • 48 cases of corporate fraud
  • 77 abusive tax schemes
  • 283 international operations

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