Prosecutions of assaults upon Internal Revenue Service (IRS) personnel can be instituted under either 18 U.S.C. § 111 or 26 U.S.C. § 7212(a). The latter statute provides a particularly helpful alternative in cases where there is simply an offer of violence unaccompanied by the potential for imminent use of physical force. In contrast to 18 U.S.C. § 111 where it is necessary to establish that the defendant forcibly assaulted, resisted, opposed, impeded, intimidated, or interfered with the Federal officer, under 26 U.S.C. § 7212(a) a mere threat of force, including a threat conveyed by letter, is sufficient to constitute an offense. However, to constitute a violation of this statute, the statement must be a true threat as opposed to simply a coarse statement of opposition to the practices of the IRS and its agents. See Watts v. United States, 394 U.S. 705, 708 (1969). Further, unlike 18 U.S.C. § 111, 26 U.S.C. § 7212(a) requires that the government establish knowledge by the defendant of the IRS agent's official capacity. United States v. Johnson, 462 F.2d 423 (3d Cir. 1972), cert. denied, 410 U.S. 937 (1973); United States v. Rybicki, 403 F.2d 599 (6th Cir. 1968). Normally, prosecutions should be instituted under 26 U.S.C. § 7212(a) only when the nature and gravity of the threat is sufficient to impede operations of the IRS. Prosecutions should generally not be undertaken in instances of picayune threats in which the only purpose to be served is to shield IRS agents with a special inviolability not accorded other Federal investigative agents.
[cited in USAM 9-65.600]