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Title 6: Tax

6-1.000 - Policy

6-1.100 Department of Justice Policy and Responsibilities——Tax Division
6-1.110 Criminal Tax Cases
6-1.120 Civil Tax Cases
6-1.130 Tax Division Manuals

6-1.100 - Department of Justice Policy and Responsibilities—Tax Division

The Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division, subject to the general supervision of the Attorney General and under the direction of the Associate Attorney General, is responsible for conducting, handling, or supervising all matters arising under the internal revenue laws. 28 C.F.R. § 0.70.

The Department of Justice, including the United States Attorneys, is responsible for conducting all federal tax litigation in the federal bankruptcy, district, and appellate courts and in state courts. The Department's responsibilities include:

  • prosecuting criminal tax cases
  • defending refund suits
  • litigating adversary proceedings and contested matters in bankruptcy and other insolvency proceedings
  • litigating contested claims in probate proceedings
  • defending actions involving property upon which there are federal tax liens, including mortgage foreclosure suits, interpleaders, and actions to quiet title to, partition or condemn property
  • litigating collection suits against delinquent taxpayers
  • obtaining orders enforcing administrative summonses and defending actions to quash administrative summonses
  • obtaining orders allowing entry into private property to effect a levy or seizure of property
  • obtaining orders allowing the administrative seizure of a personal residence
  • defending actions for damages brought under the Internal Revenue Code
  • defending actions for damages against IRS employees

Only attorneys whom the Department of Justice employs or authorizes to represent the United States may handle federal tax litigation in courts other than the Tax Court. Attorneys from the Office of the Chief Counsel, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), represent the Commissioner of Internal Revenue in Tax Court litigation, and may be appointed as Special Assistant United States Attorneys (SAUSAs) to handle certain tax-related bankruptcy litigation.

The information that the IRS provides to the Department of Justice for the Department's use in representing the United States in federal tax litigation is confidential. The Department may use that information only in accordance with 26 U.S.C. § 6103. Its attorneys and support staff must safeguard the information to prevent unauthorized disclosure and use. See Tax Information Security Guidelines for Federal, State, and Local Agencies (IRS Pub. 1075 (Rev. 2-07)).

[updated September 2007]

6-1.110 - Criminal Tax Cases

The Tax Division oversees all federal criminal tax enforcement and handles the investigation and/or prosecution of certain criminal tax cases. For a map reflecting the geographical assignments of the Tax Division Criminal Enforcement Sections, see Tax Resource Manual 1. For contact information, including mailing addresses and telephone and fax numbers, see Tax Resource Manual 2.

With certain exceptions set forth in this chapter, only the Tax Division may authorize grand jury investigations of potential criminal tax violations and the designation of any individual or entity as a target of the investigations. Only after the Tax Division has authorized a grand jury investigation, may a United States Attorney issue subpoenas and undertake other investigative actions. In addition, only after the Tax Division has authorized the prosecution of individuals and entities for criminal tax violations, may a United States Attorney seek an indictment or file any tax charges. Criminal tax violations include not only federal criminal charges arising under the internal revenue laws but also related statutes contained in provisions other than Title 26, United States Code. See USAM 6-4.200.

Once the Tax Division authorizes a tax investigation or prosecution, a United States Attorney generally has responsibility for handling the case. Upon the request of the United States Attorney, and provided that the Tax Division has sufficient resources, the Tax Division may assist the United States Attorney in investigating and/or prosecuting a tax case. The Tax Division may assign one or more of its highly qualified trial attorneys to handle the grand jury investigation and/or trial responsibilities or to work as co-counsel with an Assistant United States Attorney in one or more cases or investigations. If needed, the Tax Division can assign a Division attorney to assume responsibility for the United States Attorney's criminal tax docket for a period of time. Tax Division attorneys can also assist with criminal tax policy and litigation matters, including foreign evidence-gathering problems. Contact the Chief of the appropriate Criminal Enforcement Section for assistance.

[updated September 2007]

6-1.120 - Civil Tax Cases

Tax Division Responsibility. Attorneys in the Tax Division's Civil Trial Sections have primary responsibility for most civil tax litigation in the federal district and bankruptcy courts, as well as in state trial courts; attorneys in the Tax Division's Appellate Section have primary responsibility for civil tax cases in federal and state appellate courts. A United States Attorney's responsibilities in civil tax and tax-related bankruptcy cases will vary, depending on the nature of the case, local practice, and other circumstances. For a map reflecting the geographical assignments of the Tax Division Civil Trial Sections, see Tax Resource Manual 3. For contact information, including mailing addresses and telephone and fax numbers for the Civil Trial Sections, Appellate Section, and Office of Review, see Tax Resource Manual 4.

Counsel of Record. Generally, even when a Tax Division attorney has primary responsibility for the litigation, the United States Attorney will be listed as an attorney on the case. Depending on local practice, and after consultation, an Assistant United States Attorney may be listed as counsel of record in a particular case.

Tax Division Referrals. On occasion, the Chief or Assistant Chief of a Civil Trial Section may determine that the United States Attorney, rather than a Tax Division trial attorney, should represent the Government. When the Tax Division Chief or Assistant Chief authorizes the United States Attorney to handle a civil tax case, a Tax Division trial attorney may also be assigned to the case.

Direct Referrals by the IRS. The IRS refers some types of civil tax and tax-related bankruptcy cases directly to the United States Attorneys. These include certain types of bankruptcy proceedings, actions under 28 U.S.C. § 2410 (other than interpleaders), and some summons litigation. If the United States Attorney is unable to staff a civil tax case for which the United States Attorney has litigation responsibilities because of personnel shortages or for other uncontrollable circumstances, the United States Attorney should request assistance from the Tax Division. If, in certain bankruptcy matters, the Tax Division is unable to provide the requested assistance, the Office of the Chief Counsel, IRS, may permit one of its attorneys to assist the United States Attorney. In that case, the United States Attorney then may authorize the IRS attorney to act as a Special Assistant United States Attorney (SAUSA) for a limited period of time and for purposes of handling the particular matter for which the Tax Division could not provide assistance. The Tax Division can assist the United States Attorney in preparing the paperwork necessary to obtain IRS permission and/or appoint the SAUSA.

Special Assistant United States Attorneys. The United States Attorney's district, the United States Attorney and the IRS Counsel may arrange to have one or more IRS Counsel attorneys appointed as Special Assistant United States Attorneys to handle bankruptcy matters that the IRS would ordinarily refer to the United States Attorney. The Tax Division can assist the United States Attorney in preparing the paperwork necessary to obtain IRS permission and/or appoint the SAUSA.

[updated September 2007]

6-1.130 -Tax Division Manuals

The Tax Division has prepared several manuals that the United States Attorney may find useful

Should the above-listed manuals conflict with this Title of the USAM, this Title of USAM controls.

[updated May 2009]