How Long Does the IRS Take to Investigate Tax Evasion?

The duration of an IRS tax evasion investigation can vary significantly depending on the complexity of the case and the resources available to the agency. However, based on the information provided in the given URLs, we can provide an overview of the typical timeline and process involved in such investigations.

Initiation of Investigation

IRS criminal investigations can be initiated from various sources, including:

  • Referrals from within the IRS, such as from revenue agents or revenue officers who detect potential fraud during audits or collections.
  • Information received from the public, either through voluntary disclosures or anonymous tips.
  • Ongoing investigations by other law enforcement agencies or United States Attorneys’ offices.

Preliminary Analysis and Investigation Approvals

Once information is received, special agents analyze it to determine if criminal tax fraud or other financial crimes may have occurred. This preliminary process involves evaluating relevant information and making a determination to approve or decline further development of the case. If approved, the special agent in charge authorizes the initiation of a “subject criminal investigation.”

Conducting a Criminal Investigation

During the investigation, special agents gather facts and evidence to establish the elements of criminal activity. This may involve:

  • Interviews with witnesses
  • Surveillance
  • Execution of search warrants
  • Forensic examination of evidence
  • Subpoenaing bank records
  • Reviewing financial data

Special agents collaborate closely with IRS Chief Counsel Criminal Tax Attorneys throughout the investigation to ensure legal compliance.

Prosecution Recommendations

After gathering and analyzing evidence, special agents make a determination on whether the evidence supports criminal charges. If so, they prepare a “special agent report” detailing the findings and recommending prosecution. This report undergoes multiple levels of review within the IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) division.


If the Department of Justice or the United States Attorney accepts the investigation for prosecution, the IRS special agent assists in preparing for trial. However, once the special agent report is referred for prosecution, the investigation is managed by the prosecutors.


The ultimate goal of an IRS Criminal Investigation prosecution recommendation is to obtain a conviction, either through a guilty verdict or plea. Successful prosecutions serve as a deterrent and reinforce the message that tax fraud will not be tolerated.

Duration of Investigations

As mentioned earlier, the duration of tax evasion investigations varies. However, based on the information provided in the URLs, we can estimate the following timelines:

  • Preliminary Analysis: This initial phase can take several weeks or months, depending on the complexity of the case.
  • Full-Scale Investigation: Once a subject criminal investigation is initiated, it can take 12 to 24 months or longer to complete, with significant staff hours dedicated to the case.
  • Prosecution and Trial: If the case proceeds to prosecution, the timeline for trial and resolution can vary depending on factors such as the court’s schedule and the complexity of the case.

It’s important to note that these timelines are estimates and can be affected by various factors, such as the availability of resources, the cooperation of witnesses, and the complexity of the financial transactions under investigation.

How does the IRS find tax evasion?


Does the IRS investigate tax evasion?

Criminal Investigation special agents investigate violations of the tax laws and related financial crimes. Taxpayers who chose to willfully and intentionally not comply with their legal responsibility to file required tax returns and/or pay taxes pose a serious threat to tax administration and the American economy.

How long does it take for IRS to investigate a report?

Now for the answer to the all too familiar question every tax attorney gets: “How long does a tax audit take?” The IRS audit period itself should generally take no more than five to six months. Sometimes with proper preparation, they can be resolved faster.

How do you know if IRS is investigating you?

Signs You May Be Under Investigation Many times the IRS won’t tell you directly that you’re under criminal investigation. But there are signs you can watch out for: IRS agents suddenly stop contacting you after requesting information or asking you to pay taxes owed.

What happens after someone is reported for tax evasion?

Tax evasion in California is punishable by up to one year in county jail or state prison, as well as fines of up to $20,000. The state can also require you to pay your back taxes, and it will place a lien on your property as a security until you pay.

What is IRS criminal investigation?

WASHINGTON – IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) dedicates 70% of its time and resources to investigating tax crimes that include questionable refund schemes, return preparer fraud, abusive tax schemes, and more. This tax season, CI is cracking down on schemes that victimize U.S. taxpayers.

Are You under investigation for tax evasion?

With hundreds of thousands of dollars (if not millions of dollars) in financial penalties and years of federal imprisonment potentially on the line, taxpayers cannot afford to take chances. If you are under investigation for tax evasion, protecting yourself starts with understanding the options you have available.

What is IRS criminal investigation 2024?

Jan. 29, 2024 — IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) dedicates 70% of its time and resources to investigating tax crimes that include questionable refund schemes, return preparer fraud, abusive tax schemes, and more. This tax season, CI is cracking down on schemes that victimize U.S. taxpayers.

What happens if you get caught tax evasion?

John loses his firefighting job, his community reputation, his savings and more, and is now a convicted felon. While the IRS does not pursue criminal tax evasion cases for many people, the penalty for those who are caught is harsh. They must repay the taxes with an expensive fraud penalty and possibly face jail time of up to five years.

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