Agency Spotlight—IRS Criminal Investigation (CI)

Feb 13, 2017

criminalContinuing our spotlight this month on the IRS is the Criminal Investigation (CI) of the IRS.

This team serves the American public by investigating potential criminal violations of the Internal Revenue Code and related financial crimes. They do this in a manner that creates confidence in the tax system and compliance with the law. Additionally, the IRS is the only federal agency that can investigate potential criminal violations of the Internal Revenue Code.

Who They Are

The CI is comprised of nearly 3,500 employees worldwide, 2,500 of which are special agents whose authority includes tax, money laundering, and Bank Secrecy Act laws. Specifically trained to recover computer evidence, they also specialized forensic technology. This technology allows them to recover financial data that may have been encrypted, password protected or hidden by other electronic means.

Their conviction rate is one of the highest in federal law enforcement. People convicted of these types of crimes receive substantial prison sentences, fines, civil taxes, and penalties.

Their strategic plan has three interdependent programs: Legal Source Tax Crimes, Illegal Source Financial Crimes, and Narcotics Related and Counterterrorism Financial Crimes.


On July 1, 1911, the IRS Commissioner created the Intelligence Unit to investigate many allegations of tax fraud. Six U.S. Post Office Inspectors were transferred to the Bureau of Internal Revenue to become the first special agents and later, recognized as the finest financial investigators in the world.

They attained national prominence in the 1930’s for the conviction of Public Enemy #1, Al Capone, for tax evasion and also its role in solving the Lindbergh kidnapping.

In July 1978, they changed their name to Criminal Investigation (CI). Over the years their authority expanded to include money laundering and currency violations. Their core mission has remained unchanged and continues to ensure the integrity and fairness of our nation’s tax system.

Since their inception in 1919, the conviction rate for federal tax prosecutions has never fallen below 90 percent. This is unmatched in federal law enforcement.

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