Enforcement: Collections, Penalties & Criminal Investigation


Section 4 of the IRS Data Book presents information on collections, penalties, and criminal prosecutions resulting from individuals’ or entities’ failure to comply with the tax code. Failure to comply with filing, reporting, and payment requirements may result in civil penalties or, in some cases, criminal investigation, which may in turn lead to prosecution, fines, and imprisonment. IRS’s Collection function collects Federal taxes that have been reported or assessed but not paid and secures tax returns that have not been filed. IRS’s Criminal Investigation function conducts investigations of alleged criminal violations of the tax code and related financial statutes.

This chart shows the amount of civil penalties assessed by type of tax in fiscal year 2018. Individual and estate and trust income taxes reported the largest share of civil penalty assessments at more than $13.0 billion. The second largest shares of civil penalties were from business income taxes followed by  nonreturn penalties.

View chart details (XLS). For additional graphs from this section, download the PDF of this year’s Data Book.

Highlights of the Data

  • In Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, the IRS collected more than $55.5 billion in unpaid assessments on returns filed with additional tax due, netting more than $40.6 billion after credit transfers (Table 16).
  • The IRS assessed close to $29.3 billion in civil penalties. Almost $12.0 billion was assessed in civil penalties on individual and estate and trust income tax returns (Table 17).
  • In FY 2018, the IRS initiated 2,886 criminal investigations in three areas—legal source tax crimes, illegal source financial crimes, and narcotics-related financial crimes. The IRS completed 3,051 investigations in these areas (Table 18).

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