When one thinks of an IRS agent, a gun-toting officer with permission to use force does not immediately come to mind. Although most officers spend the majority of their time behind a desk, as the average taxpayer would imagine, there is a group of IRS agents who do, in fact, carry guns and wear bullet proof vests. These agents belong to the IRS Criminal Investigations Division.
This division, created in 1919, was the group of agents who took down one of the century’s most notorious criminals, Al Capone, for tax evasion. Since its inception, the division has assisted the IRS in catching and convicting criminals accused of tax crimes. Reports indicate that the division has the highest conviction rate among the agencies.
Despite its ability to convict at an astonishing rate, the division does have an imperfection that the IRS watchdog sees as problem for the safety of the agents. According to a Treasury Inspector General study highlighted by a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, agents who belong to the Criminal Investigations Division do not possess sufficient training in the use of firearms. The study goes on to say that the criminals being pursued by the agents for various tax crimes may use extreme measures to evade the officers; therefore, it is imperative that the officers are equipped both physically and mentally for any dangerous situation that may arise.
The report from the Treasury Inspector General suggests that in order to ensure that officers are adequately prepared to handle work in the field, the IRS must revise policies outlined in the Internal Revenue Service Manual. If the IRS decides not the force agents to surrender their weapons if requirements are not met, the TIG suggests that the IRS revise the manual to include consequences for the inability to meet requirements set forth in the manual.
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