Criminal Investigation Report Released by IRS

The IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) has released its 2022 Annual Report which is full of statistics, important partnerships and significant criminal enforcement actions. Highlights include 2,550 criminal investigations, more than $31 billion recovered, and a 90% conviction rate.

 

IRS-CI expanded partnerships with foreign counterparts in 2022 to help combat tax and financial crimes on a global level. IRS-CI special agents delivered trainings in countries like Argentina, Germany, Colombia, and Palau on topics ranging from cybercrime to human trafficking. After changes to Mexico law that enabled the extradition of tax fugitives, they launched an initiative to identify fugitives who had absconded to Mexico and nearby countries, which led to the identification of 79 criminal fugitives and the apprehension of eight.

 

Report Details

CI Chief Jim Lee called the 90% conviction rate “the statistic I continue to be most proud of” in the division’s annual report“We are thorough and good at what we do. As I tell crowds around the country, if a CI special agent has you in their crosshairs, there is a good chance you are going to jail.”

The report notes that of the 1,837 cases referred for prosecution, 1,564 cases resulted in convictions. CI identified $32.6 billion in financial crimes, $5.7 billion of which were classified as tax fraud.

“While navigating our way through the backend of a global pandemic, we seized record amounts of data and cryptocurrency, led some of the largest tax cases on record and spearheaded first-of-its-kind national and international initiatives aimed at developing and strengthening partnerships in the public and private sectors,” Lee said in the report.

In terms of tax crimes, the report highlights four key areas that the division focused on

  • General tax fraud
  • Refund Fraud Program
  • Abusive tax schemes
  • Employment tax fraud

The Refund Fraud Program has three parts – the Questionable Refund Program, the Stolen Identity Refund Fraud investigations, and the Return Preparer Program for both individuals and businesses. Each of these programs looks out for criminals who file fraudulent tax returns to steal government funds. “This type of theft erodes voluntary compliance and taxpayer confidence in the integrity of the tax system,” the report states. “It also results in the loss of vital funds needed to support government programs, many of which impact the most vulnerable Americans.”

Areas the division focus on related to non-tax crimes include money laundering, public corruption, corporate fraud, general fraud, and the Bank Secrecy Act Program, which focuses on fraud using foreign bank accounts.

CI also focuses on cybercrimes and in 2022, it was a part of the largest single financial seizure in government history with “the arrest of Ilya Lichtenstein and his wife, Heather Morgan, for an alleged conspiracy to launder cryptocurrency that was stolen during the 2016 hack of Bitfinex, a virtual currency exchange,” the report states. “Approximately 119,754 bitcoin (BTC) was stolen from the exchange and was valued at approximately $4.5 billion at the time of the arrest. The CI Cyber Crime Unit, with the assistance of other U.S. authorities traced the stolen funds.”