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2020 Was a Busy Year for IRS Criminal Investigations


Posted in on June 16, 2021

The Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division (IRS CI) recently released its Annual Report for 2020. Despite the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, IRS CI still had a very busy year. The Annual Report sheds light on some of the agency’s current priorities and initiatives, and it makes clear that IRS CI will be continuing to aggressively target taxpayers in 2021. Here, Maryland tax lawyer Kevin E. Thorn, Managing Partner of Thorn Law Group, discusses some of the most notable data from the report.

IRS CI’s Tax Enforcement Priorities

Nearly three-quarters of IRS CI’s efforts in 2020 (73.1 percent) focused directly on tax-related crimes. The remaining 26.9 percent were split between financial crimes (i.e. money laundering and general fraud) and narcotics-related offenses. On the tax enforcement side, IRS CI primarily focused on targeting offenses in the areas of:

  • Abusive tax schemes
  • Corporate fraud
  • Cybercrimes
  • Employment tax fraud
  • General tax fraud
  • Identity theft
  • International tax fraud
  • Public corruption
  • Refund fraud

IRS CI is Enhancing Its Digital Forensics Capabilities

In 2020, IRS transitioned its Electronic Crimes section to Digital Forensics. As the Annual Report explains, the section has been, “restructured to better provide world class digital forensic services to Special Agents and other law enforcement stakeholders. . . . Virtually every criminal investigation now includes some form of digital evidence . . . [and t]he Digital Forensics section specializes in extracting evidence from a variety of sources: standalone computers, mobile devices, business computer networks and systems, servers, cloud storage, and even the dark web.”

IRS CI is Enhancing Its Enforcement Capabilities Overall

In addition to enhancing its digital forensics capabilities, IRS CI is enhancing its enforcement efforts overall. In 2020, IRS CI added 21 Special Agents and 100 professional staff to assist with the division’s efforts to target suspected tax criminals in the U.S. and abroad. At the end of 2020, IRS CI has close to 3,000 Special Agents and staff members devoted to investigating and assisting with the prosecution of tax violations and related financial crimes.

IRS CI’s Office of International Operations (IO) is Playing an Increasingly Central Role

With more U.S. citizens traveling abroad, more foreign citizens having financial interests in the U.S., and new technological innovations facilitating cross-border tax crimes, IRS CI’s Office of International Operations (IO) is playing an increasingly central role in the division’s enforcement efforts. In 2020, IO had Special Agent Attachés stationed in 11 foreign countries, and the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (J5)—of which IRS CI is a key part—conducted its first major takedown targeting suspects in the U.S., U.K, Australia, Canada and the Netherlands.

Speak with a Maryland Tax Lawyer at Thorn Law Group

The Maryland tax lawyers at Thorn Law Group represent taxpayers in the U.S. and abroad in IRS CI matters. If you have been contacted by IRS CI Special Agents, or if you are concerned about a possible criminal tax investigation, we encourage you to call 240-235-5096, email ket@thornlawgroup.com or contact us online promptly to arrange a confidential consultation.

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