While most of what I hear about the IRS these days makes them out to be struggling to keep on top of an increasing workload with fewer employees and a shrinking budget, there’s one curious outlying data point: criminal prosecutions of tax cases referred by the IRS to the Justice Department are up 23.4% during the Obama administration.
This may not be as anomalous as it seems. Perhaps by chucking these cases over the fence into the criminal court system, this takes some of the workload off of the IRS. In other words, maybe these cases are ones the agency would prefer to handle with civil charges and it’s pursuing criminal charges only because otherwise it couldn’t handle the case load at all. Just speculation; I’m not sure if the budget even works that way.
Another possibility is that the surge in identity theft cases in recent years has led to more criminal activity that falls under the tax umbrella. (The report shows that charges of theft of public money and of identity fraud were the third and ninth most common criminal tax charges in — up from 15th and 19th respectively the year before.)