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March 22, 2016

IRS Criminal Enforcement Slides

As Congress continues to reduce its overall support of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the chances that the IRS will at some point recommend a taxpayer for criminal prosecution have significantly declined — from 13.3 per million population in FY 2013 to 9.2 per million in FY 2015. This level is the lowest seen during the Obama Administration. The reduction in the number of IRS matters referred to federal prosecutors appears to be directly related to the drop in the number of the agency’s criminal investigators, which has been cut back 16 percent over the last five years. Considering the last several decades, the odds of criminal prosecution from an IRS referral, while still higher than they were during the last Bush Administration, are only half the level that prevailed twenty-five years ago in early nineties (see Figure 1). Although the actual number of prosecutions brought as a result of referrals from the IRS Criminal Investigation division are miniscule (1,633 in FY 2015), they have for many years loomed large in the agency’s tough-guy enforcement reputation. These results are based upon an analysis of case-by-case Department of Justice records obtained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University through litigation under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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