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Justice Department touts its criminal tax enforcement record

To a degree, it's only natural to enjoy touting one's own accomplishments. And our contemporary culture certainly tilts toward self-congratulatory shout-outs.

Two generations ago, the baseball star Joe DiMaggio famously circled the bases after homeruns with bowed head, not wanting to show up an opponent. Today, however, we live in the age of dancing in the football endzone and trash talk on the basketball court.

Few would accuse a buttoned-down operation like the Tax Division of the Justice Department of talking trash. But in this post, we will discuss a recent press release from Justice Department lauding the Tax Division's criminal enforcement record.

The Justice Department chose to issue this release less than a week before the federal income tax filing deadline.

The suspects were the usual ones in criminal tax:
• Tax fraud
• Tax evasion
• Offshore account disclosure
• Tax refund fraud based on identity theft
• Tax shelters with no economic substance

But the Justice Department also made sure to mention that it had closed down more than 60 tax preparers whom it had determined to be fraudulent.

The press release also noted the number of criminal investigations and prosecutions initiated by Tax Division against individuals. For fiscal year 2013, the number of grand jury investigations was nearly 750. And there were nearly 1,500 prosecutions.

Many of these cases come as referrals from the Criminal Investigations (CI) unit of the IRS.

In short, the timing of the press release seemed to carry a subtext: paying taxes is not voluntary. And the government is prepared to go after those who do not pay.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice, "Justice Deparment Highlights Tax Division's Enforcement Results," April 9, 2014

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