IRS Special Agent Career, Job, Degrees and Training Information

IRS Special Agents, more commonly know as Criminal Investigator agents (CI), conduct criminal investigations for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), an agency of the Treasury Department. CI agents investigate financial fraud and conduct investigations when suspected violations of IRS tax code occur. Criminal Investigators identify crimes and locate criminal by tracking money. CI Special Agents are first and foremost investigative accountants. They are in fact forensic accountants searching for and analysing evidence of criminal misconduct.

Moreover, they investigate money laundering, suspected breaches of the Bank Secrecy Act, violations of the tax code, and crimes related to the currency. They specialize in four distinct areas: financial crimes related to drug trafficking, terrorism, other illegal activities, and tax evasion. CI agents have both accounting and police duties.

Technology has altered how commerce and finance are conducted as well as the investigative methods used by CI agents. Today, many agents possess the expertise to operate forensic software to recover evidence from computers. However, this does not imply all financial crimes are committed with computers. Agents still utilize traditional investigative methods.

Be A Part of a "Bigger" Law Enforcement Team

When you become a member of the IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) team you become a player in a large network of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. IRS special agents works closely with US Attorneys, the Department of Justice, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, the US Postal Inspection Service, Inspector Generals of all Federal Agencies, the US Marshals Service and many smaller state and federal law enforcement agencies. Many federal agencies depend on IRS criminal investigators to help identify and unravel various criminal activities by following the money trail such activities always leave. These criminal activities almost always lead to tax law violations as well as many other financial crimes and federal offenses. It is not uncommon for a financial investigations headed by a CI team to discover other serious more serious crimes including corruption, extortion, embezzlement or even murder.

Special Assignments

CI Agents have a variety of diverse work opportunities throughout their careers. They may participate in both long- and short-term special assignments on multi-agency law enforcement task forces – such as the US Attorney's Telemarketing Fraud Task Force or Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force – presidential campaign protective assignments, or become involved in an undercover cadre or become a Computer Investigative Specialist.

Basic Training Required to Become a Criminal Investigation (CI) Special Agent

It is reqquired that CI Special Agent candidates attend a intensive training program conducted at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) located in Glynco, Georgia. Candidates will first participate in an orientation program provided by the National Criminal Investigation Training Academy. CI students are then required to attend a nine-week Criminal Investigation Training Program (CITP) which will cover federal criminal investigation techniques, including federal criminal law, enforcement operations, courtroom procedures, interviewing and standard firearms training that is required for all federal law enforcement agents.

The nine-week criminal investigation segment of the training includes new agents from several different federal law enforcement agencies including the Department of Homeland Security, the Secret Service, the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Bureau, and a few other federal law enforcement agencies. After the criminal investigative training has been completed, CI candidates then begin the CI's 16-week special training program, which includes instruction in tax law, , money laundering, criminal tax fraud and a variety of other financial fraud schemes and scenarios. CI students are also provided an introduction to agency-specific undercover operations, forensic sciences, electronic surveillance techniques, court procedures, interviewing techniques and trial preparation and testifying.

CI training focuses the development of mission critical behavioral and technical skills. Training incorporates a complex and highly interactive methodology of course delivery combined with interaction with each CI trainee throughout the breadth program. Training will provide new special agents with the opportunity to learn and practice real-world tasks that will help to improve ongoing job performance.

Specialized CI Special Agent Training

Since financial records today are increasingly automated, CI Special Agents must be specially trained in recovering evidence found in complex computer systems. Computer equipment used by criminal offenders may contain important financial data that has been password protected, encrypted or otherwise hidden so that it won't be discovered. Special agents use their forensic investigative expertise and specialized tools to discover and then recover sensative financial data to be used as evidence to convict offenders of money laundering and federal tax violations.

Each Computer Investigative Specialist employed the IRS receives two desktop computers, a personal laptop and a variety of other specialized equipment and software to help them in their investigations. Extensive and highly specialized training ensures all CI Special Agents are the best of best when it comes to financial investigation in law enforcement.

CI Special Agents who want to become a Computer Investigative Specialist (CIS) are required to successfully complete various computer courses that will equip them with the tools, skills and technical knowledge required to perform complex data recovery and forensic analysis of electronic data.

CIS training starts with a pre-basic 2-week course, followed by a 3-week Computer Evidence Recovery Training course. Both of these courses are provided at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) located in Glynco, Georgia. Upon completion of these course, a newly trained Computer Investigative Specialist will then participate in a 3-week Computer Evidence Analysis Training course sponsored by the University of North Texas. One year following a CIS's initial training, he or she is required to attend a 2-'-week Advanced Computer Evidence Recovery Training course in order to gain additional knowledge and expertise in computer networking and advanced data recovery.

Where Do IRS/CI Special Agents Work?

Criminal Investigation (CI) is organized into specific geographies with field offices located across the United States. The Headquarters for CI is in Washington, DC. IRS Special agents are assigned to work in several major cities as well as more rural locations nationwide (including Puerto Rico).

Because electronic commerce is now part of a global economy money laundering and financial fraud does not stop at US borders. There are a few international assignments available for IRS Special Agents in Canada, Colombia, Mexico, Barbados, London, Iraq, Germany, and Hong Kong. Strategically assigning Special Agents to work internationally is just one of the many ways the U.S. government attempts to stay step ahead of global financial crimes.

IRS Special Agent Requirements

Requirements for Initial Appointment at an IRS/CI Special Agent:
  • GS-4: Completion of 2 academic years of post-high school study or an associate's degree.
  • GS-5: Completion of 4 academic years of post-high school study leading to a bachelor's degree, or 4 academic years of pre-professional study.
  • GS-7: Completion of 1 academic year of graduate-level education, a bachelor's degree with superior academic achievement, or 5 academic years of pre-professional study.
  • GS-9: Completion of 2 academic years of graduate-level education or master's or equivalent graduate degree.

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