IRS crime-fighting boss announces retirement


IR-2024-38, Feb. 12, 2024

WASHINGTON — Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (CI) announced Friday that Chief Jim Lee will retire from federal service, effective April 6.

Lee has led CI since October 2020. During this time, he has overseen a staff of more than 3,200 CI employees, including 2,200 special agents, who have investigated thousands of financial crimes involving tax violations, money laundering, public corruption, cybercrime, identity theft, narcotics trafficking, human trafficking and terrorism financing. In addition to their world-renowned financial investigative responsibilities, approximately 140 special agents are members of a rapid response force providing support and security to local and federal first responders during national disasters and national emergencies.

“It has been the honor of my career to serve as the chief of CI and represent the 3,000-plus employees within the division. I have been fortunate to be surrounded by talented men and women across every discipline of the organization as we have unraveled some of the most complex financial crimes this world has ever seen. I will miss the job, my colleagues and the challenges we faced together,” said Lee.

Lee is a 2023 recipient of the Presidential Rank Award for Distinguished Service and was recently chosen to co-chair the Treasury Department’s Counter-Fentanyl Strike Force. He has been at the helm of CI during some of the most significant enforcement actions in the agency’s 100-plus year history, including the shutdown of the largest darknet marketplace and the largest financial seizure in the history of government. Lee has also been an active leader in the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (known as the J5) committed to combatting transnational tax crime through increased enforcement collaboration. The Joint Chief collaborate to gather information, share intelligence, conduct operations and build the capacity of tax crime enforcement officials.

“Chief Lee has been an incredible federal servant – starting out as a special agent and then climbing the ranks to lead CI, the law enforcement arm of the IRS,” said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel. “Chief Lee epitomizes the agency’s guiding principles, and CI has done impactful work on a global level under his leadership.”

Prior to his selection as chief, Lee served as the deputy chief of CI. Lee began his career in 1995 as a special agent in Detroit, Michigan. He has served as the special agent in charge of the New Orleans Field Office and the executive special agent in charge of the Chicago Field Office. Lee has also served in other executive roles for CI, including director of strategy, director of northern field operations, director of southern field operations and deputy chief.

A replacement for Chief Lee has not yet been named.