The Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service have long promised a crackdown on firms that sold abusive tax shelters. It looks like federal prosecutors are helping them keep that promise.

KPMG, which became the subject of a criminal probe by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan for its past promotion of tax shelters that the IRS says were abusive, got some company on the hot seat last week, when rival Big Four firm Ernst & Young found out it, too, faces a criminal investigation for promoting tax shelters deemed abusive. It doesn’t matter that both firms, and many of the others that have been under intense scrutiny for their tax shelter activities in the 1990s, stopped promoting the shelters in question years ago. In E&Y’s case, it doesn’t even matter that the firm paid a $15 million penalty last year in a civil settlement with the IRS to resolve issues surrounding the firm’s past tax shelter work. That deal didn’t include the Justice Department.

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