If you are contacted or approached by a special agent of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), it is important to know what is happening and what to do. The short answer is defer contact with the agents and contact an experienced criminal tax attorney immediately. Read on for the background to that advice.
The Criminal Investigation (CI) unit of the IRS investigates criminal tax fraud and other financial crime. As noted by the IRS, “Criminal Investigation finds criminals or crimes by tracking money. Special Agents are first and foremost investigative accountants. They are forensic accountants searching for evidence of criminal conduct.”
Special agents work out of field offices across the US, in collaborative teams and multi-agency groups. Most often, special agents work in pairs to investigate and pursue criminal tax charges against individuals and entities.
If you receive word that a special agent would like to speak with you—it is related to an IRS criminal investigation of some kind. Here are some steps to consider:
- Speak with a tax lawyer before agreeing to speak with a special agent. If you receive a letter or telephone call from the IRS concerning a discussion of your taxes or a financial matter, do not agree to speak with a special agent without your attorney present. Conversations you have with special agents are not protected and will be used against you in an investigation.
- Because you are not (yet) charged with a tax crime, no one will read you your Miranda rights. Understand that your professional, personal, and financial future are on the line when you speak with a special agent—contact an IRS tax lawyer immediately.
- Regardless of how you are approached, be clear that you will speak with your tax attorney before speaking with the special agents. Special agents may approach you on the street, near your car, or your place of business. This unsettling conduct may let you think you just need to speak with them now and get it over with. Take their business card, tell them you will speak with legal counsel and be in touch to set up a time to talk. Remember that criminal charges are possibly imminent, and you need legal advice before agreeing to any conversation.
- As with any time that law enforcement shows up at your door to talk, you do not need to invite them inside. Step outside your door, be polite, and return to your home or office.
- Retain all business records and alert your organization. The CI branch of the IRS has over a 90 percent conviction rate for the cases that it pursues. By speaking with a tax lawyer before you speak with a special agent, you are less likely to make mistakes, or incorrectly describe your financial dealings. It is critical that you safeguard all documents and tax records that could be at issue. Destroying documents and providing multiple explanations will not help resolve a criminal tax matter.
You cannot talk your way out of an encounter with IRS special agents. Talk to your tax attorney first.
Skilled criminal tax defense in Cleveland and Chicago
When your business and liberty are on the line, Robert J. Fedor, Esq., LLC provides experienced, strategic legal representation if a special agent is asking about your financial dealings, foreign bank accounts, or other tax controversy. We provide knowledgeable, discrete legal counsel and guidance. Contact us or call 800-579-0997 today.