IRS Most Likely To Come After You This Month

Prosecutions for federal tax crimes peak in April — possibly on purpose.

A recent analysis shows prosecutions for tax-related crimes peak in April — and that timing might be intentional on the part of the federal government.

Susan Long, director of the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University, said in Bloomberg Business today:

Back in 1973, we got IRS manuals, and they actually talked about coordinating [prosecutions] during tax season to make people think about their responsibility under the tax law.

While Bloomberg reports that the IRS did not respond to a request for comment, TRAC’s analysis of the latest government case data supports Long, who also teaches managerial statistics at Syracuse.

It shows that the number of tax-crime prosecutions is consistently highest in April – with March being the second runner-up:

  • Last year, 233 criminal prosecutions arose from IRS investigations during the month of April – compared to anywhere from 92 (July) to 163 (March) the rest of the year.
  • Over the past decade, an average of 201 criminal prosecutions arose from IRS investigations in April – compared to an average of 95 (November) to 157 (March) the rest of the year.

While a defendant can be prosecuted for multiple charges in a single case, prosecutors designate one offense as a “lead charge.” According to TRAC’s analysis, the most common lead charges last year were:

  • Fraud and false statements (Title 26 of the U.S. Code Section 7206): 226 counts
  • Conspiracy to defraud the government claims (18 USC 286): 163 counts
  • Attempt to evade or defeat tax (26 USC 7201): 160 counts
  • False, fictitious or fraudulent claims (18 USC 287): 98 counts
  • Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud U.S. (18 USC 371): 82 counts

Alabama led the nation in the number of federal tax-crime prosecutions per capita last year:

  • Middle District of Alabama: 27 prosecutions per million people (compared to a national average of 5.4 prosecutions per million people)
  • Southern District of Alabama: 26 prosecutions per million people
  • Southern District of Mississippi: 19 prosecutions per million people
  • Southern District of Florida: 15 prosecutions per million people
  • Nevada and Washington, D.C. (tie): 13 prosecutions per million people

Do you think the April spike in tax-crime prosecutions is intentional? Sound off with a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Karla Bowsher
Karla Bowsher
I’m a freelance journalist and former newspaper reporter who has covered both personal and public finance. I've worked for a top 50 major metro daily and a community newspaper as well as ... More

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