Increased IRS ERC compliance activity: Audits, criminal investigations, special letters

Last month, the IRS started sending thousands of letters to taxpayers notifying them of disallowed ERC claims. These disallowed claims involved entities that did not exist or did not actually have employees on the payroll during the period of eligibility – meaning the businesses failed to meet basic criteria for the ERC program.

In addition, the IRS plans to send a different set of letters to thousands of ERC recipients related to claiming an erroneous or excessive credit. These notices inform recipients that the IRS will recapture the erroneously claimed ERC payment through normal tax assessment and collection procedures.

These letters are for tax year 2020 where the statute of limitations is nearing in April. As we continue to ramp up our compliance work, the IRS will send more recapture letters for tax year 2021 this spring.

These efforts are in addition to other IRS compliance work:

  • Audits. The IRS has thousands of audits in the pipeline.
  • Civil investigations. Promoters are not off the hook. Promoter investigations are ongoing. The IRS has nine open investigations and another 123 under review. Plus, participants in the Voluntary Disclosure Program must share the promoter names with the IRS to assist the agency in its ongoing compliance work.
  • Criminal Investigation. As of Dec. 31, CI has initiated 352 investigations involving more than $2.9 billion in potentially fraudulent ERCs in tax years 2020-2023. Eighteen of the 352 investigations have resulted in federal charges, with 11 convictions and four sentencings with an average sentence of 21 months.

CI is the law enforcement arm of the IRS, responsible for conducting financial crime investigations, including tax fraud, narcotics trafficking, money-laundering, public corruption, healthcare fraud, identity theft and more. CI is the only federal law enforcement agency with investigative jurisdiction over violations of the Internal Revenue Code, obtaining a nearly 90% federal conviction rate. The agency has 20 field offices located across the U.S. and 12 attaché posts abroad.