When facing an investigation or audit by the IRS, an individual may decide that he wishes to accept whatever determination the IRS reaches, pay any taxes or penalties assessed and move on with his life. Another option we recommend is that you consult with a qualified attorney to pursue whatever defenses may be available. But the worst decision you could make would be to attempt to harass or threaten IRS agents in order to impede the investigation. This is a clear violation of 26 USC § 7212 and can leave the individual vulnerable additional criminal penalties. Furthermore, the IRS is not an agency that is easily intimidated.
And while threatening physical violence against an IRS employee is clearly illegal, the conduct does not need to be this severe to leave the individual vulnerable to criminal liability. Filing a false complaint against IRS agents with false allegations of misconduct could be enough to trigger federal prosecution. That’s because the government views this as an effort to impede administration of tax laws and punishes it as a separate tax crime.
Some individuals have even gone so far as to file false tax claims against IRS agents. This is actually worse than threatening force against an IRS agent. Threats of force carry fines of only $3,000 and punishment of one year in jail. However, obstruction efforts such as false complaints or filings can subject the individual to up to $5,000 in fines and three years in jail. The federal government views those that make deliberate attempts to obstruct or impede IRS business more harshly than someone who happens to fly off the handle or lose their composure when faced with an IRS investigation.
Of course to sustain a prosecution, the government must prove that a frivolous action was filed for the purpose of harassing an IRS agent in order to impede an investigation. Simply because the IRS was annoyed or bothered by someone’s actions is not enough to trigger a violation of the statute. But for every taxpayer who goes beyond the bounds of the law to resist an IRS investigation, this law provides them with a powerful weapon.