By Mario V. Dispenza •
If you’re like most Americans, your immediate question is “what’s a ‘Special Agent’ and what does this mean?”
Unfortunately, it means that the IRS believes that you have committed a crime and they have assigned a highly-skilled, criminal investigator to investigate you and/or your business. Moreover, it’s more likely than not that the polite, professional special agent who contacted you has been investigating you for some time and already believes that there is enough evidence to have you indicted. What s/he hopes to gain from interviewing you is an admission to solidify the criminal case for presentation to the Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) for the AUSA to bring the case to a Grand Jury, get the indictment and ultimately criminal conviction of you.
IRS Special Agents are Federal Law Enforcement Officers akin to Special Agents from other Federal law enforcement agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Secret Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), just to name a few. Each agency trains its special agents in the particular areas of the Federal Criminal Code that the agency enforces. Like their counterparts in their sister agencies, IRS Special Agents have extensive investigative training and expertise, are authorized to carry firearms, to make arrests, to seize assets, and to execute search warrants.
All of that seem ominous. But the real danger to you is subtle and you won’t even see it coming. In fact, the Special Agent has already started to use it on you. One of the most effective investigative techniques that they’re taught is interrogation, which they call “interviewing” – and they’re very good at it. In fact, they’re so good that contrary to what you have seen in movies and on T.V., you won’t even realize that you’re being interrogated. To you, it will feel like a pleasant conversation because that’s the best interrogation. They know that the more relaxed the interviewee is, the more willing the interviewee is to talk and to trust the interviewer.
I know firsthand. I was trained in those techniques and practiced them in my 25-year career as a Federal Agent, first for the IRS and then for ATF. In fact, the longest prison sentences I saw meted out were in cases in which the defendant had given a statement. The Special Agent who has approached you knows that, too and that’s why s/he wants to talk to you.
Now, you may be saying to yourself “This can’t be right, those folks can’t be after me. I’ve read about those types of investigators and seen movies. They’re the ‘Untouchables’ from the movie, the government agents who go after the Al Capones, organized crime figures, and big drug dealers. Besides, s/he didn’t ‘read me my rights’ or anything like that.” Well, that’s true they do target high-profile crime figures and those cases do make the headlines. But, those cases are not their day-to-day investigations. The IRS has Special Agents in offices around the United States and in a number of offices overseas. They target a broad swath of individuals and businesses, and they have in fact targeted you. Moreover, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security because they didn’t read you any warnings. Depending on the circumstances of the interview, they may not have to read you any warnings. They know the law very well in that regard and they’ve probably arranged the interview to avoid having to do so because they want you relaxed.
So, you’re rightfully concerned. What to do? First and foremost, state clearly to the Special Agent that you want to speak to a lawyer. Make no mistake. The situation has gone beyond finances and your liberty is at stake. Be polite, as confrontation will only unnecessarily inflame a situation. Confirm your identity if they ask for it, but above all say nothing more than you want to speak to a lawyer. Then, call one of our attorneys at Kelly|Dorsey, who collectively have over 50 years of IRS experience. We have been there before. Our attorneys will aggressively defend your constitutional rights and protect your overriding legal interests while ultimately resolving your tax issue.
If you would like to learn more about Kelly|Dorsey’s criminal tax defense, civil tax litigation, IRS audits, and IRS collection practice groups, please fill out and send the Contact Form on our Contact Us page. You can also connect with Kelly|Dorsey through Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin. Tax Controversy Group Chair Attorney Gerald W. Kelly can be reached via email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone at (410) 740-8750.