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An Inside Look Into The IRS's Criminal Investigation Unit

Posted at 3:52 PM, Feb 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-25 23:43:47-05

NEW YORK (WPIX-TV) — There's an entire enforcement side of the IRS we don't always see or hear about, where agents are making sure no one is getting away with your hard-earned money.

"Because it's tax season now , we're really focusing on return preparer fraud," said John Tafur, who is the special agent in charge of Newark, New Jersey's IRS Criminal Investigation unit.

He said if your tax preparer isn't charging you a flat-fee, it's a red-flag.

"A legitimate tax preparer will not try to inflate your refund so they get a percentage of that refund."

The agency is also cracking down on employment tax-fraud this tax-season.

"Employers are paying their employees in cash and not filing the required forms with IRS. We had an individual who was just sentenced to 52-months in prison for evading payroll taxes," he said.

The criminal investigation division, which is the enforcement arm of the IRS, is the only federal agency that can recommend prosecution for tax-evaders - and that can make things dangerous for agents who have to execute search, seizure and arrest warrants.

"When we go out and look to arrest an individual, we are not sure whether they own a weapon or good mental state of mind," said Tafur.

The scams that they're seeing more these days are IRS impersonator phone-calls and emails.

"IRS does not operate that way we do not send emails or make phone calls," he added.

"We don't ask you to provide your bank information, social security number or any personal data."

According to agents, when you're doing your tax returns, make sure your proper name, social security number, income and amount of dependents is accurate - otherwise you could get audited, or even face jail-time.

For all of your tax questions and concerns, go to

Copyright 2020 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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