If someone commits tax evasion, will they be arrested by local police, or the IRS’s CI and Justice Department?

  • 3
    In most cases, nobody will arrest them, because most tax evasion is treated as a civil matter. If the matter is pursued criminally, however, the local police are not going to effect the arrest because local police don't generally enforce federal law. Did someone call and claim they would send someone to arrest you?
    – phoog
    Sep 15, 2021 at 5:41
  • No, I was just wondering because there is an anti-police sentiment currently happening, but it’s by the same group of people who want to increase taxes. I don’t particularly care for police or taxes, but I wanted to know if this was a contradictory position to hold.
    – Cannabijoy
    Sep 15, 2021 at 5:48
  • 6
    I asked whether someone called because it's a common phone scam to threaten arrest over unpaid taxes, which the US federal government does not do by telephone. I've encountered this scam personally a couple of times, and I've been present when others have received such calls on a couple of additional occasions. There are a few videos on YouTube in which local police officers take such calls.
    – phoog
    Sep 15, 2021 at 6:43
  • 1
    Software entrepreneur John McAfee was arrested in Spain by Spanish police for US federal criminal tax evasion; but he died by suicide before the extradition was completed. bbc.com/news/world-europe-57589822
    – user662852
    Sep 15, 2021 at 13:35
  • Who's taxes did they evade?
    – ohwilleke
    Sep 16, 2021 at 0:57

2 Answers 2


The IRS Criminal Investigation division is typically going to be the arresting agency, assuming that (1) the offense is treated as a criminal matter; (2) a warrant is actually issued; and (3) anyone actually sets out specifically to serve the warrant.

It is usually the case, though, that the violation is handled as a civil matter. When it is treated as a criminal violation, the defendant and the Service often reach an agreement that eliminates the need for an arrest. If there is a warrant, though, any police agency could theoretically make the arrest if they happened across the defendant. But if it's a time-sensitive investigation -- if the defendant is expected to flee or destroy evidence, for example -- it's a safer bet that you'll see an actual warrant execution. In that case, you would have CI taking the lead, perhaps with assistance from other agencies.

  • 1
    Assuming that it is an evasion of federal tax law, rather than state or local tax law. The IRS won't arrest someone for evading property taxes or state sales taxes, for example.
    – ohwilleke
    Sep 16, 2021 at 0:57
  • Quite correct. Thanks.
    – bdb484
    Sep 16, 2021 at 14:45

If someone commits tax evasion, what organization will arrest them?

First, not all tax evasion is dealt with as criminal conduct. The relevant authority, HMRC, can impose civil penalties instead - in the most severe cases this can amount to 100% of the tax due.

If it is regarded as criminal conduct, such as fraud or cheating the public revenue, then any arrests will be made by the law enforcement agency with primacy for the investigation:

This may be, in no particular order:

Note that although the Serious Fraud Office can investigate and prosecute offences, its employees do not have the power to make an arrest.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .