IRS makes 'tremendous progress' in tax fraud prevention
April 09, 2015

An old adage claims that the only two certainties in life are death and taxes, and humans have a long-standing history with trying to evade both. And while it's true that no man or woman has concocted a magic elixir to stave off the Reaper successfully, there have been many fruitful attempts at tax fraud, identity theft, tax evasion and the like. The Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation division was created to bring responsible parties to justice and prevent attempts in the first place.

Over the past few years, the IRS has experienced budget cuts and retirements, which have whittled down the pack of special agents tasked with obtaining criminals. Despite the setbacks, the IRS recently released its 2014 report, which showed promising numbers for inquiries and sentencing.

The year in numbers
As numbers are the agency's business, it seems appropriate to represent their year as an array of them. For 2014, the IRS launched nearly 4,300 criminal investigations, which is down by about 1,000 from the previous year, noted The Hill. The cutback was due to the budget restraints and the lack of manpower down on the ground, the source reported. There was also a 20 percent decline in the amount of convictions from 2013, however, the conviction rate inched up to 93.4 percent. The Criminal Investigation unit has the best conviction rate of all the government agencies last year.

Even though the IRS has experienced set backs and the CI staff has the lowest number it's seen since the 1970s, as AccountingToday reported, the agency remains optimistic. However, this affects accounting standards as there are questions to field through the agency and fewer people to answer them.

Looking forward
According to Tax-News, IRS Criminal Investigation Division Chief Richard Weber stated that "[the agency's] highest priority is to enforce our country's tax laws and support tax administration to ensure compliance with the law and combat fraud."

In the coming years, we can expect to see more of a focus on identification theft and tax refund investigations. Weber noted that there is specific software in place that filters fraudulently acquired materials, such as incorrect tax returns, from leaving the service in the first place, so perhaps the agency will be able to function properly with fewer staff members on hand.

Weber also believes that tax frauds are moving away from small level cases and transitioning into an international scale, AccountingToday noted. This will undoubtedly change the nature of the investigations taking place and hopefully the staff will be able to accommodate the scale. Perhaps if accounting firms were to expand their staffing and recruiting efforts, the country might be able to make up for the lack of IRS staff members by providing Americans with quality tax care.

Nexus: G-WEBCD5