On May 3, the Internal Revenue Service announced that it will be hiring between 600 and 700 new federal tax enforcement personnel. “This will be our first significant enforcement hiring in more than five years,” IRS Commissioner John A. Koskinen announced in an email to IRS employees. Additional human resources for IRS enforcement will increase the number of audits, investigations, and prosecutions of individuals and businesses.
In light of last week’s news that the tax gap—the difference between taxes owed and paid—is now estimated to be $458 billion, the cause of this new initiative is clear: The government needs revenue. “Each enforcement position typically returns almost $10 to the U.S. Treasury for every dollar spent,” Commissioner Koskinen said, “and in many instances, much more.”
Hiring will take place in two waves. First, the IRS will seek entry-level revenue agents, Criminal Investigation special agents, revenue officers, and IRS attorneys, among others. Then it will look to more senior enforcement positions, whose focus will be on refund fraud, identity theft, and importantly, international tax issues.
Although the effort will not completely reverse the current low levels of federal tax enforcement, it will help to fill “key gaps,” Commissioner Koskinen said, replacing 12% to 14% of the enforcement personnel the IRS has lost since 2010.