Streamlining Legal Review of Criminal Tax Cases Would Strengthen Enforcement of Federal Tax Laws

Gao ID: GGD-81-25 April 29, 1981

The efficiency and effectiveness of the federal government's tax enforcement efforts have been hampered by a time-consuming and duplicative legal review process for criminal tax cases. About 75 percent of the investigations conducted by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) do not lead to prosecutive recommendations or convictions.

Readily available legal assistance during investigations could reduce staff-day expenditures, thus improving IRS productivity in terms of the quality and timeliness of its investigations. However, it routinely does not obtain the assistance until after investigations are completed. Many criminal tax cases are declined for prosecution by IRS or Department of Justice attorneys who determine that such cases do not meet certain legal standards. Often, an attorney could have detected legal deficiencies during the investigative process. IRS established a means whereby special agents can seek such assistance by prereferring a case to IRS attorneys at any point during an investigation. This prereferral mechanism has not been used in many cases and has not fully met IRS needs. Although the legal review process clearly needs restructuring, the best means for doing so is not clear. GAO presented various alternatives for revising the process, all of which call for partial or complete elimination of one of the three current review levels.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

Director: Johnny C. Finch Team: General Accounting Office: General Government Division Phone: (202) 512-7824

The Justia Government Accountability Office site republishes public reports retrieved from the U.S. GAO These reports should not be considered official, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Justia.