The IRS has significantly increased its enforcement actions against tax criminals and its rate of convicting them, according to a new report from the IRS’s Criminal Investigation unit.

The CI unit increased by 12.5% the number of investigations it initiated in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2013, compared to the prior year, and increased prosecution recommendations by nearly 18%. The unit initiated 5,314 cases and recommended 4,364 cases for prosecution. These increases occurred at a time when agent resources decreased more than 5%, largely due to budget cuts at the agency.

Meanwhile, convictions rose more than 25% compared to the prior year. The conviction rate for fiscal 2013 was 93%.

“The conviction rate is especially important because it reflects the quality of our case work, our teamwork with law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, and it represents an increase over 2011 and 2012,” said IRS chief of criminal investigation Richard Weber in a statement.
In stepping up the fight against identity theft, CI initiated over 1,400 investigations, according to the report, and recommended prosecution of over 1,250 people who were involved in identity theft crimes during fiscal year 2013.

CI is also an active partner in more than 35 Identity Theft Task Forces, the report pointed out, where the unit works side-by-side with federal, state and local law-enforcement agencies to combat the threat of identity threat. One of those task forces, the Tampa Bay Identity Theft Alliance, was recently recognized as the 2013 Task Force of the Year by the International Association of Financial Crimes Investigators for investigative excellence and outstanding public service. The Tampa Bay Identity Theft Alliance was formed last year and comprises 20 Tampa Bay federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors.

The report summarizes other IRS CI activity investigating tax crimes, money laundering, public corruption, terrorist financing and narcotics trafficking financial crimes during the fiscal year.

“Our cases involved individuals and corporations from all segments of society,” said Weber. “They led us into corporate board rooms, offices of public officials, tax preparation businesses, identity theft gangs and narcotics-trafficking organizations.”

Michael Cohn is the web editor for Accounting Today.

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