The government is upping its enforcement measures in the wake of its success in catching tax cheats, penalizing promoters, barring unscrupulous preparers and shutting down abusive tax shelters, according to officials. At a joint Internal Revenue Service-Justice Department briefing, agency executives noted that last year, IRS Criminal Investigation referred more than 3,000 cases to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution, nearly a 20 percent increase over the previous year. During fiscal year 2004, the conviction rate on cases investigated by the IRS and referred to Justice was 95.4 percent. "If you're thinking about cheating on your taxes, think twice," said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson. "The IRS is ramping up its enforcement efforts, particularly for high-income individuals and corporations. Where we need to, we turn to the Justice Department to take people to court." The Justice Department's Tax Division's criminal enforcement priorities include prosecuting schemes that involve using trusts or other entities to conceal control over income and assets; shifting assets and income to hidden offshore accounts; claiming fictitious deductions; using frivolous justifications for not filing truthful tax returns; failing to withhold, report and pay payroll and income taxes; failing to report income; and failing to file tax returns.
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