The tax agency could now target protesters, broad new guidelines suggest

By Ken Klippenstein,

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is positioned to do much more than just collect your taxes as it turns its attention to individuals who threaten the U.S. government’s “ability to govern,” a vague new criteria for criminal investigations, according to its own operating manual.

IRS Internal revenue service building
Photo credit: Flickr user TravelingOtter

Buried in the fine print is the revelation that the IRS is pivoting away from its post-9/11 focus on financing of foreign terror groups like al Qaeda and criminal money laundering to a much broader and ill-defined “national security” threat. The shift, revealed in the latest versions of the voluminous Internal Revenue Manual, applies to IRS participation in dozens of federal government “national security” investigative task forces, which were previously referred to as “narcotics and terrorism” task forces until late last year.

The shift involves the tax agency in everything from maintaining the safety of the stock market to protecting critical infrastructure.

Though the IRS employs over 83,000 civil servants, some 3,000 are assigned to its Criminal Investigation division, which investigates tax and banking improprieties, public corruption, identity threats, narcotics and terrorist financing. Criminal investigations is also deeply involved in federal government and intelligence community efforts to police non-financial crimes, according to the IRS’s operating manual.

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