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Can the IRS Issue an Arrest Warrant?

can the IRS issue an arrest warrant

If you’re not updated on the latest tax facts and statistics, you could make mistakes or miscalculations that might lead to a tax case. Fortunately, tax cases are generally civil in nature. However, in some instances, the case can become criminal, requiring the issuance of an arrest warrant. 

An arrest warrant is issued only after the tax case has been prosecuted and a tax crime has been charged. Here, the government may use an indictment or information to charge the crime. If there is sufficient evidence for the indictment of the taxpayer-defendant, then an arrest warrant may be issued.

This article will walk you through the process of arrest warrant issuance. 

What is an Arrest Warrant? 

An arrest warrant is a document issued by a judge or magistrate in a court of law authorizing law enforcement officers to arrest a person accused of a crime. 

Before an arrest warrant is granted, the government must establish probable cause for apprehending the defendant. Generally, the evidence must be presented when requesting an arrest warrant to prove such probable cause. 

Tax Case Prosecution: How an Arrest Warrant is Issued 

Prosecuting a tax case is no simple job for the IRS. In addition, the government has limited available resources to prosecute tax crimes. Hence, the IRS selects only the most significant cases with the greatest conviction potential. 

You may ask, can the IRS issue an arrest warrant? Read on to know the answer to this critical question and learn how an IRS arrest warrant is issued for a tax case. 

1. A tax case generally starts at the IRS level

The IRS typically initiates a tax case based on tax evasion. The IRS criminal investigation (CI) branch — composed of agents specializing in examining taxpayers presumed to have violated internal revenue laws — spearheads the assessment of a possible case. 

IRS CI agents have powers similar to traditional law enforcement officers, such as making arrests and carrying firearms. They may work with other IRS personnel such as revenue officers, IRS attorneys, and technical fraud advisors to carry out the assessment.

2. The case is referred to the Department of Justice

If the case has high conviction potential, the IRS refers it to the Department of Justice (DOJ) Tax Division’s Criminal Enforcement Section (CES) for authorization. In most tax cases, this approval is necessary before the prosecution phase can proceed.

The CES has offices in different geographic locations. The CES office authorized to review the referral depends on where the tax crime occurred.

3. The grand jury determines whether there is probable cause

Once the DOJ authorizes the case’s prosecution, a federal grand jury is convened. The grand jury comprises 16 to 23 citizens tasked with determining whether there is probable cause to charge the taxpayer-defendant with the offense presented. At this point, the jury commences an investigation.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) typically spearheads the grand jury investigation. The jury does not decide whether the defendant is guilty or not. However, it can gather evidence to aid in the study.

4. The trial venue is determined

When the government charges a crime, it must indicate the venue for the trial. Under the Constitution, the proper venue is where the defendant committed the crime. This applies to a federal criminal tax case unless a rule says otherwise.  

5. The indictment is presented to the grand jury

After receiving a case from the DOJ, the USAO will examine the facts presented and the IRS’s recommendations. Then, it will decide what crime can be proven and instruct the prosecutor to charge the most severe yet provable offense.  

The prosecutor will use an indictment or information as a formal document to charge the crime. An indictment is a formal accusation letter containing the charges against the defendant and the supporting facts. Meanwhile, information is a formal complaint or accusation the prosecutor files on behalf of the government.

The indictment will then be presented to the grand jury. If the body finds sufficient evidence to charge the defendant with the crime, it will return the indictment — known as a “True Bill” — and present it to be signed and filed with the court. Only 12 of the 16 jury members are needed to indict the defendant.

Once the jury returns the indictment, the court may issue an arrest warrant in the defendant’s name. However, an arrest warrant is not necessarily required to be given. Instead, the court may legally require the defendant to appear in court through a summons

Get Expert Services When Dealing with an Arrest Warrant

While the IRS can initiate a tax crime, it cannot issue an arrest warrant. Nevertheless, receiving an arrest warrant poses a severe problem. It means you need to appear in court to answer the tax charges the government has filed against you. 

Peace of Mind Tax Help offers tax resolution services for tax cases involving arrest warrants. Contact our team of leading tax negotiation and mediation experts to learn how we can help you find relief!

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