In support of the overall IRS Mission, Criminal Investigation (CI) serves the American public by investigating potential criminal violations of the Internal Revenue Code and related financial crimes in a manner that fosters confidence in the tax system and compliance with the law.

How Does Criminal Investigation Support the IRS Mission?

The IRS mission is to: "Provide America's taxpayers top-quality service by helping them understand and meet their tax responsibilities and by applying the tax law with integrity and fairness to all." The Internal Revenue Service is responsible for collecting more than 90% of all dollars collected by the United States Government.

The Money Trail

Criminal Investigation finds criminals or crimes by tracking money. Special Agents are first and foremost investigative accountants. They are forensic accountants searching for evidence of criminal conduct.

The Investigative Arm of the Internal Revenue Service

Criminal Investigation is responsible for the enforcement of tax, money laundering and Bank Secrecy Act laws. Compliance with tax laws in the United States relies heavily on self-assessments of what tax is owed. That is called voluntary compliance. When individuals and corporations deliberately do not comply, CI responds and enhances compliance through successful criminal prosecutions.

As financial investigators, CI Special Agents fill a unique niche in the federal law enforcement community. Today's sophisticated schemes to defraud the government demand the analytical ability of financial investigators to wade through complex paper and computerized financial records. Due to the increased use of automation for financial records, CI Special Agents are trained to recover computer evidence. Along with their financial investigative skills, they use specialized forensic technology to recover financial data that may have been encrypted, password protected or hidden by other electronic means.

Criminal Investigation's conviction rate is one of the highest in federal law enforcement. Not only do the courts hand down substantial prison sentences, but those convicted must also pay fines, civil taxes and penalties.

Strategic Priorities:

The Criminal Investigation strategic plan is comprised of three interdependent programs: Legal Source Tax Crimes; Illegal Source Financial Crimes; and Narcotics Related Financial Crimes.

Law Enforcement Team

CI Special Agents are a Part of a "Bigger" Law Enforcement Team

Being a part of the IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) team means being a part of an enormous network of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. IRS works closely with the Department of Justice, US Attorneys, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the US Postal Inspection Service, Inspector Generals of all Federal Agencies, the US Marshals Service and the list goes on. Many federal agencies rely on CI to unravel criminal activities by following the financial trail - which ultimately leads to violation of the tax laws and numerous other related financial crimes or other federal offenses. It is not unusual for a financial investigation to uncover motives for other serious crimes such as corruption, embezzlement, extortion or even murder.

Special Assignments:

Special Agents have numerous diverse work opportunities. They may participate in long- and short-term special assignments on multi-agency task forces - such as the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force or the US Attorney's Telemarketing Fraud Task Force - presidential campaign protective assignments, or become a member of the undercover cadre or become a Computer Investigative Specialist.

Special Agent Medical Requirements

Since the duties of this position are exacting and involve responsibility for the safety of others under demanding conditions, those candidates who are tentatively selected must possess emotional and mental stability and meet other medical requirements. Any condition that would hinder full, efficient performance of the duties of this position, or that would cause the individual to be a hazard to himself, herself or others, is disqualifying.

General Requirements

The duties of this position require moderate to arduous physical exertion involving walking and standing, use of firearms, and exposure to inclement weather. Manual dexterity with comparatively free motion of limbs is required.

Vision Requirements

For all positions covered by this standard, near vision, corrected or uncorrected, must be sufficient to read Jaeger type 2, 14 inches. Uncorrected distant vision must test 20/200, and corrected distant vision must test 20/20 in one eye, and 20/30 in the other. Normal depth perception and peripheral vision are required, as is the ability to distinguish shades of color by color plate tests.

If you have undergone refractive surgery, you must meet Treasury approved requirements, which include documentation that you have passed specific exam and protocol testing. Visual acuity requirements are expressed in terms of the Snellen vision tests.

Hearing Requirements

Hearing loss, as measured by an audiometer, must not exceed 30 decibels (A.S.A.) or equivalent (I.S.O.) in either ear in the 500, 1000, 2000 Hz ranges. You must be able to hear the whispered voice at 15 feet with each ear without the use of a hearing aid.

Special Agent Training

What Training is Required to Become a Criminal Investigation (CI) Special Agent?

Special Agent candidates are required to attend a comprehensive training program at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Glynco, Georgia. Training begins with an orientation program sponsored by the National Criminal Investigation Training Academy. Students then attend a nine-week Criminal Investigation Training Program (CITP) covering basic federal criminal investigation techniques, including federal criminal law, courtroom procedures, enforcement operations, interviewing and firearms training common to all federal law enforcement agents.

This segment of training includes new agents from the Department of Homeland Security, the Department Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Bureau, the Secret Service and other federal law enforcement agencies. After CITP is completed, candidates continue on to CI's 16-week specialized training, which includes instruction in tax law, criminal tax fraud, money laundering and a variety of financial fraud schemes. They are also introduced to agency-specific undercover operations, electronic surveillance techniques, forensic sciences, court procedures, interviewing techniques and trial preparation and testifying.

Training emphasizes the development of both technical and behavioral skills. It incorporates a highly interactive methodology of course delivery coupled with a high expectation of trainee interaction throughout the program. It is designed to provide new agents with the opportunity to progressively learn and practice more complex tasks required to perform on the job. This is accomplished through a combination of written examinations, graded practical exercises (PEs) and non-graded PEs designed to test the critical elements of the Special Agent postion.

Special Agent Computer Investigative Skills

Additional Training Opportunities In Recovering Digitial Media Evidence For Special Agents

Special Agent - Computer Investigative Specialists (SA-CIS) are experienced Special Agents who receive advanced specialized training in digital forensics.   The use of computers and mobile devices continues to increase in both the business and personal world and digital evidence is a significant aspect of today’s financial investigations.  Computer equipment and mobile devices may contain financial records, communications, photos, geolocation information and much more.  This data may only exist in its digital form and no longer exist on physical paper.   The data on the devices may be encrypted, password protected, deleted or otherwise hidden.  These challenges require the SA-CIS to use their investigative skills and specialized equipment and software to forensically recover this data as evidence in tax, money laundering, and other financial violations.

Special Agents interested in becoming an SA-CIS, must first obtain the CompTIA A+ certification.  Once selected into the program, they will be required to complete a variety of courses which provide the tools and knowledge to perform forensic data recovery and analysis of electronic data.

Training begins with a 6-week Basic Computer Evidence Recovery Training course through the Treasury Computer Forensics Training Program (TCFTP) at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC). Throughout their careers, the SA-CIS receives additional advanced training to maintain and improve their skills, and learn new tools and techniques required to continue performing digital forensics in an ever-evolving world of advanced technology.

Special Agent Benefits, Salary and Retirement Information

In addition to the benefits offered to all federal employees, additional benefits are offered to CI Special Agents, such as:

Physical Fitness

Special Agents may participate in Criminal Investigation physical fitness program that includes a physical fitness program and annual health screenings.

Salary Information

Salary ranges for Special Agents vary according to the geographic area, cost of living adjustments, as well as prior federal-related work experience.

The following rates shown are only a guide:

  • Salary Range for GL-5/7: $50,638 - $72,898 Annually
  • Salary Range for GL-9: $64,280 - $82,945 Annually

The salary ranges include 25% Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP). Click here for more pay chart information.

Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP)

LEAP provides an additional 25% of pay for irregular and recurring overtime, for an average of 10 hours of overtime per week over the calendar year.


Special Agents are covered under the Federal Employees' Retirement System (FERS). Therefore, Special Agents may retire at the age of 50 with 20 years of federal law enforcement service, or at any age with 25 years of such service. Mandatory provisions require that all law enforcement personnel retire at the age of 57 with 20 years of law enforcement service, or immediately upon completing 20 years of service.

Where are CI Special Agents Located?

Criminal Investigation (CI) is organized into regional areas with field offices across the United States. The Headquarters office is in Washington, DC. Special agents are located in many major cities and outlying posts of duty nationwide (including Puerto Rico).

Work locations within the United States are very flexible and, because electronic commerce has created a global economy where money laundering does not stop at the US borders, there are also a limited number of international assignments available in Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Barbados, London, Germany, Iraq, and Hong Kong. Strategically placing Special Agents on foreign soil is just one of the ways to stay a step ahead of the global financial crimes.

Special Agent Pre-Employment Process

Qualified applicants who pass all required written and oral tests may be tentatively selected. They must then satisfactorily complete four requirements prior to entering a GL-1811, Criminal Investigator Special Agent position and attend training at Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC). These requirements are:

  • Submit to a drug test and receive a negative result.
  • Submit to an agency-provided physical examination and meet the medical requirements of the position as outlined in the OPM qualification standards.
  • Initiate paperwork and receive a favorable determination based on a full background investigation.
  • Undergo and satisfactorily complete a pre-appointment tax audit.

Drug Testing

Satisfactory completion of a drug test is required prior to appointment. Incumbents of the position are, thereafter, subject to Random Drug Testing as a condition of retention in the position.

Medical Examinations

Those tentatively selected must submit to a physical examination to determine if they meet the basic medical standards and can safely perform the physical requirements of the position. To provide consistency of the pre-employment examinations, the IRS has a contract with Comprehensive Health Services (CHS) to conduct all pre-employment physicals. CHS has contracted clinics throughout the United States to conduct the examinations. The IRS Criminal Investigation Medical Review Officer (MRO) reviews the results of each applicant's examination and determines if the applicant is medically qualified to perform the full range of duties of an IRS special agent. The IRS pays for this examination, however; any additional information requested from the MRO for clarification, is at the expense of the applicant.

Privacy Act Statement

The results of medical tests and examinations are covered by laws and regulations which protect the privacy of an individual. Medical information can only be disclosed to individuals with a need to know.

Suitability for Employment (Background Investigation)

The Special Agent position is designated as a public trust, high-risk position, and a those tentatively selected must undergo a background investigation and be found suitable for the position prior to appointment. Selected candidates must also undergo periodic reevaluation as a condition of retention in the position.

Tax Audit

Criminal Investigation requires those tentatively selected to undergo and successfully complete a pre-appointment income tax audit since they will be dealing with the enforcement of income tax laws.

Lautenberg Amendment

Section 18 USC 922(g)(9) of the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1997 makes it unlawful for any person who has been convicted of a misdemeanor involving domestic violence to possess a firearm. The law covers soldiers in the military and law enforcement officers. Consequently, applicants who have been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence will be found not suitable for this position.

Equal Employment Opportunity

The IRS is an equal opportunity employer. Selection for this position will be based solely on merit without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, national origin, political affiliation, disability, sexual orientation, martial or family status, membership in an employee organization, or other non-merit factors.

The IRS is committed to ensuring that all employees perform in a manner warranting the highest degree of public confidence and demonstrate the highest level of ethics and integrity.

If you have questions regarding law enforcement careers, please reach out to the CISA Contact for your state.

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