TIGTA has released a new report on IRS criminal enforcement activities in .
In , although the percentage of tax-related subject investigations initiated and the percentage of direct investigative time applied to tax-related subject investigations increased, several key performance measures showed decreases from . For example, the number of subject investigations initiated decreased 8.5 percent, the number of subject investigations in open inventory decreased 5.8 percent, the number of subject investigations referred for prosecution decreased 4.9 percent, the number of subjects convicted of a crime decreased 6.1 percent, and the number of subjects sentenced for a crime decreased 3.6 percent.
One of the details that stood out to me was this:
Research suggests that higher levels of criminal sentences lead to higher tax compliance.… ¶ In an effort to ensure voluntary compliance, the function changed its philosophy to allow for more publicity of its tax investigations. It continues to increase the publicity on tax prosecutions, and the overall publicity rate of 75.6 percent for prosecutions in was an all time high. The 81.3 percent publicity rate for legal source [those crimes involving legal industries and occupations and legally earned income] income tax investigations is also an all time high. This increased exposure indicates the function is receiving media attention and sending the message to taxpayers that violations of the Internal Revenue Code and related financial crimes are being investigated and prosecuted.
This suggests to me that those tax resisters who are courting or anticipating criminal prosecution would be well-advised to prepare some sort of media strategy ahead of time, knowing that the IRS will certainly be trying to put a loud and attention-grabbing spin on every prosecution. Conscientious tax resisters can get a “free ride” on the IRS’s own publicity department if they plan ahead and use some savvy.