Beware: The IRS Is Putting More and More Armed Agents in the Field

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"A Career In Action! As an IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) Special Agent, you will pull together your accounting and law enforcement skills. CI special agents are duly sworn law enforcement officers who investigate complex financial crimes associated with tax evasion, money laundering, narcotics, public corruption, and much more. Are You Ready For The Challenge?" - from www.irs.gov

Now that sounds exciting. Part accountant... Part cop... All IRS. Opening soon at a theater near you.

But what would the Internal Revenue Service do with armed agents? We've already seen what the IRS can do when it's not packin' heat. They wield considerable power to collect taxes, or at least make lives miserable, so why would they require the extra coercive power of firearms?

The IRS doesn't exactly advertise the fact that they field armed, sworn officers, but they have been making more appearances lately.

Back in 2011, IRS and Department of Justice agents raided Gibson Guitar Corp. factories in Nashville and Memphis. The feds claimed that Gibson Guitars was trafficking in rare, endangered Indian hardwoods, and they seized huge amounts of inventory.

Outspoken Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz said at the time that the government bureaucracy had gotten out of hand, and was furious at the undue attention and outright indignity visited upon his business.

A Potent New Enemy?

The affair turned Juszkiewicz into something of a cause célèbre among the conservative Glenn Beck/Tea Party crowd. Ironically, Juszkiewicz had no real history of championing conservative causes, rather he firmly walked the middle of the road.

CampaignMoney.com shows he contributed to a few industry lobbying groups, Democratic and Republican congressional campaigns alike. The government bought itself an outspoken, wealthy, politically savvy new critic, and all it had to do was stomp all over his livelihood and point guns at his employees.

The hotly contested wood, from India and destined to become Gibson fingerboards, isn't actually illegal in the United States. The government took these actions based on their interpretation of Indian law, presumably quite unbidden by the Indian government.

And to top it off, Gibson has a long history of cooperating with with groups like Greenpeace and the Rainforest Alliance to ensure their hardwoods are sourced from sustainable, legal sources.

More Money, More Problems

The plight of Gibson Guitars isn't the only thing that has the IRS up in arms, or taking up arms. There have been a few occasions where the public has been shocked by the appearance of gun-toting taxmen.

Back in 2010, rapper Young Buck told WKRN-TV that a slew of shotgun-armed IRS agents entered his home, seized recording equipment, jewelry, furniture, decorations, and even his children's PlayStation. The reason for the IRS' friendly visit was $300,000 in delinquent taxes - Young Buck never threatened force or violence against the IRS.

House Homeland Security oversight chairman Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) was on tour of a law enforcement facility in May, and observed a group of agents training with what he called "AR-15s," the civilian version of the Army's standard assault rifle.

Congressman Duncan reported that the agents identified themselves to him as being with the IRS. "I think Americans raise eyebrows when you tell them that IRS agents are training with a type of weapon that has stand-off capability. It's not like they're carrying a sidearm and they knock on someone's door and say, 'You're evading your taxes,'" Duncan said.

Confusing Reports Not Helping

Adding to the murky picture is the fact that the IRS is said to be in the process of putting together a SWAT team for tax evasion. This has been shown to be a weird attempt at humor. The IRS SWAT team is to consist of highly paid, and highly skilled, accountants and lawyers. Not an actual, black-suit/big gun SWAT team. As near as anyone can tell, the armed IRS agents don't have a catchy collective name - yet.

The United States is perhaps the only country in the world where even the Secretary of Education has his own, well-armed, rapid reaction force. In light of the recent IRS monkeyshines, do we really need to add another one to the list? Or would it be a better idea to proceed under the assumption that fewer armed government employees is probably better?

Let us know what you think of this weird #armedanddangerous IRS agent business! Sound off on Twitter, or write to us on Facebook.

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