I am delighted to join Assistant Attorney General Lee O’Connor and Acting Associate Attorney General Mercer in celebrating the great accomplishments of the Tax Division and its people.
The Department of Justice is well known for its work in protecting America from terrorist attacks, from those who attempt to rob our children of a safe childhood, and from those who plague our country with drugs.
None of these efforts immediately calls to mind the Tax Division. But these critical missions – and every mission of our Government – would be impossible without the funds that our citizens must contribute to guarantee a stable and functioning democracy.
But sadly, some people go to inordinate lengths to be free riders – to grasp the blessings of our democracy on the cheap. They expend incredible energy to shirk their basic civic duty. Some pretend that the Sixteenth Amendment is invalid. Others construct elaborate disguises to hide their income. And many more would do so absent the deterrent effect of this Division.
Since 2001, Assistant Attorney General O’Connor has made stopping the promotion of tax fraud a Division priority. And the Tax Division has delivered. Over 250 injunctions against tax-fraud promoters and fraudulent-return preparers have been entered since 2001. Over the last fiscal year, a record 52 tax-fraud promoters were enjoined – a 24% increase over the previous year.
Countless more have been convicted. Last week, for example, one fraudulent-return preparer in California was sentenced to 10-˝ years in prison.
And this past year, by winning two refund suits brought by large corporations, the Tax Division saved the American people about $2.5 billion dollars.
In both the civil and the criminal contexts, your work is an essential prerequisite to everything else that the government does.
So you should be—and I hope you are—proud to be working at the Department of Justice, and in the Tax Division. Our work here is not “just a job”—it is an answer to the call of duty.
Nor are our colleagues “just” our co-workers. We are a family at work. We care about each other, not just the results of our labor. And our dedication to each other is usually an ingredient in our own successes. I imagine that both colleagues and families have been crucial to the accomplishments of today’s award recipients.
So I want to take the opportunity to acknowledge those colleagues and families along with the award recipients.
And I don’t want this mention of our families at home to be just lip service. Any celebration of this Division’s achievements would be unfair if it ignored the price families can pay to make those achievements possible.
Sometimes our jobs do require us to spend more waking hours with our professional families than with our actual families at home.
But we all need to remember that there remains nothing more important for a professional than the reward of going home at the end of the day, and nothing more fulfilling than the smile of a child or the embrace of a loving spouse.
After all, they are the reasons we work so hard. We want to protect America and make it stronger because we want the country we bequeath to our children to remain the greatest on the earth.
And we are better at work because of the love and encouragement that we receive at home. Families provide this energy and are therefore a vital part of this Department’s ability to serve the American people. I hope all Department of Justice employees take the time to be re-fueled and rewarded by your relationships at home.
I want to thank all of you for your service to the United States of America, and I want especially to commend those award recipients who will be recognized this afternoon.
I am proud to work with you, and I appreciate your having me here today.