What is an IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) Special Agent?
An IRS Special Agent works for the IRS’ Criminal Investigation unit known as CI. Special Agents are duly sworn law enforcement officers who are trained to "follow the money." They investigate potential criminal violations of the Internal Revenue Code, and related financial crimes. Unless they are working undercover they will identify themselves with credentials which include a gold badge. The same gold badge appears on their business cards. Generally, IRS special agents travel in pairs if they are going to interview someone. One to conduct the interview, and the other to take notes, and act as a witness if necessary.
If you are contacted by an IRS special agent it is because he or she is conducting a CRIMINAL investigation. It is possible that the special agent is only interested in you as a witness against the target of the IRS investigation. However, it is a bad idea to speak to special agent without a criminal tax attorney present. IRS special agents are highly trained financial investigators. If you are the target or subject of an IRS criminal investigation you are not going to talk your way out of it, by “cooperating”; instead you may be giving the IRS more evidence to use against you.
Even if the IRS special agent tells you that you are only a witness you should still consult with an experienced criminal tax attorney, BEFORE, speaking with an IRS agent. If you make misstatements that you think put you in a better light you could change your role from a witness into a target. The best tactic is to simply tell the special agent that you are uncomfortable talking to him until you have had a chance to speak with your attorney. Then ask him for his business card. In this way, your tax attorney can contact the special agent directly, and determine the best course of action.