Careers In The IRS: Criminal Investigation Unit

Written by Jacqueline b

Ah, the IRS.

Our favourite people to get calls from now that we’re adults, and those who we dreamt of growing up to become when we were kids… not.

Have you ever heard a 7-year old show and tell to his class on career day about how he wanted to work for the IRS when he was older? Didn’t think so… but that’s only because most 7-year olds (heck, most everyone) don’t realize that the IRS has a criminal investigations unit – and really, who wouldn’t be intrigued by that?

We may not have spend our childhood day dreaming about working for the IRS (or accounting, for that matter), but if you are interested now in the careers that the IRS Criminal Investigation Unit can offer you, you’ve come to the right place – forensic accounting may be just what you are looking for.

First Things First: What (Who?) Is the IRS?

The IRS, short for Internal Revenue Services, is the revenue service of the United States Government. They are responsible for the collection of taxes and the enforcement of tax laws.

The IRS originated in 1862, when President Lincoln created the first position of Commissioner of Internal Revenue and set fourth an income tax to pay for war expenses building from the civil war.

The most recent and significant restructuring of the organization was in 1998, when the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act took place.

The IRS today works to uphold their mission of providing America’s tax payers top quality service by helping them to understand and meet their tax responsibilities and enforcing the law with integrity and fairness to all.

What Does The Criminal Investigations Unit Do?

The Criminal Investigations (CI) Unit of the IRS  works to serve the public by investigating potential criminal violations of the Internal Revenue Code, and other related financial crimes.

They are responsible for the honest and fair enforcement of tax law, anti-money laundering law, and the Bank Secrecy Act laws. They do so by tracking criminals through money trails, recovering financial data that may have been encrypted, password protected, or electronically hidden, and investigating financial facts associated with various cases.

Those who do this type of work in the CI Unit are known as Special Agents.

Qualifications For Working In The Criminal Investigations Unit

Not surprisingly, getting to be a Special Agent takes a lot of work and specialized training.

Your first step, if selected as a candidate, is a specially designed training class at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia, followed by a nine-week long Criminal Investigations Training Program.

Following these two training programs, candidates must complete a third and final course, the CI 16-week specialized training course.

Each of these training programs focus on different aspects of the job, including everything from federal law and courtroom procedures, to firearms training, to specifics regarding criminal tax law and even undercover operations.

Candidates are tested through written exams and a variety of practical exercises to determine if they are fit for the position.

You Have Options

Of course, the IRS isn’t the only path available to those of you interested in this type of work.

When it comes to dealing with financial related crime and law, there are a number of potential positions you may be interested in within the world of forensic accounting.

While forensic accountants play an important role in in the CI Special Agent teams, there are also a variety of other settings in which they are needed.

As a forensic accountant you can work, for example, with the Big 4 accounting companies, which will allow you to work with a variety of clients; you can work with a private firm that specializes in forensic accounting; or you can even branch out as an independent adviser once you’ve had experience in the field.

Find Your Dream Job Today

If a future in forensic accounting, and specifically in the IRS’ Criminal Investigations Unit sounds like the right path for you, it’s never too late to start.

Speak with a college advisor about course options or speak with your current employer or potential future employers about potential opportunities, and get to work!

A promising and rewarding future in forensic accounting is waiting for you – all it takes is the decision to make it happen (and a few specialized training courses).



About the author


Jacqueline b

Jacqueline is a native Canadian and studied at the University of Alberta. She is currently a freelance writer for a number of online publications, including The Accounting Path.