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IRS touts 91% conviction rate for financial crimes

The Internal Revenue Service says it has a 90-plus percent conviction rate for tax and financial crimes.

The annual report of the IRS’s criminal investigations, released on Thursday noted a 91.2% conviction rate for those who committed tax and financial crimes.

The agency says it is more aggressively targeting major criminal tax infractions through new methods and technologies. One of their main targets are those who tried to evade tax laws.

“They took their money offshore and hid around the world, but we found them. They went on the dark web thinking that their actions were anonymous, but they weren’t, and we again found them,” Don Fort, head of the IRS’s criminal investigation unit, said in the report.

Some of the methods that are being used to hide money from the IRS include the use of crypto-currencies, which the IRS agressively targeted in 2019.

“They now deal in crypto-currency, again thinking this will make them anonymous, but our agents have once again proved that there is nowhere to hide,” Fort said.

The agency says it is also being more aggressive globally when it comes to finding tax evaders.

Deputy Chief, Jim Lee, wrote that the IRS is working with “our counterparts in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands.”

“We have found ways to better share information through appropriate channels but have already done more in this area in the last year than in the previous 10 years combined,” he said.

The IRS is also increasing the number of agents it has internationally. There will be a new agent in Singapore focused on criminal tax evasion. There will also me another employee focused on Australia, and  a second official will be added in the Netherlands. The agency has also posted an attaché in Dubai.

The more aggressive approach to finding and prosecuting major tax evasion has led to serious consequences for those convicted of tax crimes. About 79 percent of those convicted were incarcerated in 2019. The average sentence was more than three years. Other penalties included finds, restitution, and house arrest.

In all, the IRS identified $1.8 billion in tax fraud this year. The IRS also plans on hiring more agents to tackle financial crimes.

“The next wave of crime, in front of our eyes, requires us to employ new ways of investigation in solving these crimes,” Fort said. 

“The crimes are money- and greed-based, conducive to our work in following the money. We all have our own skills and capabilities. We have a lot of initiatives underway to partner with federal agencies and collaborate internationally.” 

On another note, the IRS released its final version of the 2020 Form W-4 yesterday. It has some important changes for employees and employers. The new form is intended to make withholding more accurate in light of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which hit filers for the first time last year and created some confusion.

Fox Business reports that last year’s changes surprised many people who were expecting bigger returns last year. Some people who filed did not get a return at all, although they had expected on.

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