The Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division is having a tough time sending people who cheat on their taxes to jail, thanks to an exodus of employees in the unit and a 12 percent decline in new tax evasion cases.
According to a report in Bloomberg, budget cuts and a hit by Republicans in the House of Representatives has resulted in experienced criminal agents retiring in the last few years, and thus a decline in the number of cases. In the 2016 fiscal year, that number dropped 4.3 percent to 2,217, reported Bloomberg.
During the past five years, staffing levels at the agency have declined 19.1 percent. “We’re at the same staffing level as 1956, which is just unbelievable when you think about it,” division Chief Richard Weber told reporters during a press call on Monday to discuss the lack of employees. “There’s still no realistic expectation of increasing that number anytime soon. It’s very difficult to be able to do everything we are mandated to do.”
According to Bloomberg, while tax evasion is the purview of the IRS, criminal investigators in the department are also working on money laundering, identity theft, cyber theft, narcotics and other cases that don’t have anything to do with taxes. The number of non-tax cases declined 11 percent in 2016, while new tax cases initiated declined 13 percent. Combined there was a 12 percent decrease in all cases handled by the criminal investigation unit. “IRS CI has a unique position in the government in its ability to investigate core tax cases,” Kathryn Keneally, the Justice Department’s former top tax prosecutor, said in an interview with Bloomberg. “To the extent that IRS CI has limited resources, they should be directed at its core mission.”