WASHINGTON (PNN) - August 25, 2014 - Budget pressures at the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation Division are cutting the number of investigators there to the lowest level in four decades, and officials say the changes are forcing the division to scale back its fight of financial crime.
The division investigates a variety of financial misconduct, from tax fraud and money laundering to identity theft, narcotics and counter-terrorism. Federal prosecutors around the country often seek help for cases involving money issues.
The division expects to see the number of special agents decline to 2,130 by fiscal year 2016 due to attrition, down 13% from this year. That is despite hiring 48 agents this year. At its peak in 1995, the agency had 3,358 agents.
Richard Weber, the division’s chief, carries around a pocket-sized, laminated card with a bar graph showing how his agency has been shrinking over the years as its budget fell. Weber said his goal is to get the number of special agents back up to at least 3,000.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said the lack of resources means the unit is starting fewer investigations. "There are fewer cases that you can take," Koskinen said. He did not give specific numbers.
Overall, Koskinen estimates, the IRS, through criminal investigations as well as other activities, like audits and collection efforts, brings in $50 billion to $60 billion a year for the government, or 5 to 6 times its budget of about $11 billion. He did not say how much of that was due to the investigative unit, as opposed to audits carried out by another IRS group.