A new report from Syracuse University found that the number of referrals for criminal prosecution by the IRS has spiked by 23.4 percent under the Obama administration compared to George W. Bush’s years in the White House.
The report, IRS Criminal Prosecutions Rise Under Obama, which was authored by the university’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), also concluded that prison terms for individuals convicted of tax malfeasance were slightly longer on average during Obama’s tenure in office – twenty-seven months versus twenty-five months under Bush.
The report’s data is based on case-by-case information obtained by TRAC under the Freedom of Information Act from the Executive Office for US Attorneys and the Office of Personnel Management.
According to the report, the number of annual IRS referrals for criminal prosecution received jumped from 2,529 in fiscal years 2001 to 2008 to 3,499 in fiscal years 2009 to 2013. The number of annual prosecutions filed rose from 1,303 during the Bush years to 1,568 under the Obama administration. The percentage of prosecutions was slightly higher during the Bush administration: 53.7 percent to 53 percent.
The report noted that for both administrations, the odds have been about fifty-fifty that federal prosecutors will accept an IRS referral for criminal prosecution.
“However, a surge in IRS criminal investigations referred under Obama has fueled an increase in the number of cases prosecuted,” the report stated. “This has occurred even though the number of IRS full-time criminal investigators has not grown: The average of 2,758 IRS criminal investigators during the Bush years has shrunk to 2,705 – a 2 percent drop – during the Obama administration.”
Fiscal year 2013 saw a huge surge in criminal prosecutions referred by the IRS. The government reported 2,010 new prosecutions, a jump of 30.6 percent over the 1,539 during the previous fiscal year.
However, the current level of criminal prosecutions still falls short of what it was two decades ago during the Clinton administration. The fiscal year 2013 total, for example, is down 27.4 percent from the 2,769 prosecutions reported for fiscal year 1993, according to the report.
The report also shows the top charges filed in US District Court last year based on the prosecutions of IRS referrals. The top five charges filed in fiscal year 2013 were:
- Fraud and false statements (230 counts)
- Attempt to evade or defeat tax (200 counts)
- Public money, property, or records (153 counts)
- Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud US (134 counts)
- False, fictitious, or fraudulent claims (125 counts)
Last year, the federal judicial district with the highest per-capita rate of IRS prosecutions per one million people in the United States was Alaska at fifty-three, followed by the Middle District of Alabama (Montgomery) with thirty per million and the District of Columbia with twenty-seven per million. In fiscal year 2013, the US government filed 4.9 prosecutions that were referred by the IRS for every one million people.
About Jason Bramwell
Jason Bramwell is a staff writer and editor for AccountingWEB. He has nearly 20 years of experience in print and online media as a journalist and editor.