NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Audit Finds Abuses In IRS Criminal Investigation Division

April 14, 1999

The Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation Division is supposed to investigate criminal tax violations. But over the years it has strayed into other areas -- such as helping fight drug and weapons trafficking, organized crime and money laundering. That is partly the fault of Congress and requests by other law enforcement agencies.

That was one of the conclusions of a new audit of the agency by Judge William H. Webster, a former head of both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency.

  • By and large, Webster had comforting words for the CID -- but he cautioned that "even isolated instances of abuse of authority can create impressions that undermine the public's confidence."
  • The report said that poor records make it impossible to determine if IRS warrants followed policy guidelines to be used "with restraint and only in significant cases."
  • It stated that while "isolated and individual instances of misconduct exist, no evidence was found of systemic abuse by (CID) agents."
  • That conclusion would seem to be at odds with the views of Senate Finance Committee Chairman William V. Roth Jr. (R- Del.) who said the report "confirms that there are serious problems" in the CID.

In a series of hearings last year featuring taxpayers who said they had been subjected to unreasonable IRS searches, Finance Committee members found that the CID was out of control. That conclusion led to the formation of the Webster audit, which was performed by a team of Justice Department lawyers and criminal law experts.

Source: John Godfrey, "IRS Investigators Overstep Bounds," Washington Times, April 14, 1999.


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