Fact Check

Is the IRS Hiring 'Armed Special Agents Prepared To Use Deadly Force'?

The existence of both the job and the clickbait headlines about that job are nothing new.

Published May 2, 2023

 (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Image Via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
The IRS is hiring armed special agents prepared to use deadly force.

In April 2023, Insider reported on an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) job posting for armed special agents. The reporting focused heavily on the armed portion of the job posting, which advertised positions for criminal investigation special agents, part of the law enforcement branch of the IRS:

The Internal Revenue Service is hiring special agents who shouldn't be afraid of using "deadly force." Criminal Investigation, the law enforcement branch of the IRS, is looking for agents across the US who can combine "accounting skills with law enforcement skills to investigate financial crimes," according to a job posting on its website.

"Special Agents are duly sworn law enforcement officers who are trained to 'follow the money.'" These agents investigate financial crimes, money laundering, tax-related identity theft, and terrorist financing efforts. They are the only IRS workers who are permitted to carry and use firearms. [...]

The agents must be prepared to protect themselves or others "from physical attacks at any time and without warning and use firearms in life-threatening situations" and shouldn't be afraid to "use force up to and including the use of deadly force."

Increased attention on the job posting also inspired memes:

The job posting, published on a U.S. government website, is legitimate. The authority for IRS agents in this office to use firearms and make arrests stems from well-established Federal Law (26 U.S. Code § 7608) that states, in part, that:

Any investigator, agent, or other internal revenue officer by whatever term designated, whom the Secretary charges with the duty of enforcing any of the criminal, seizure, or forfeiture provisions of subtitle E or of any other law of the United States pertaining to the commodities subject to tax under such subtitle for the enforcement of which the Secretary is responsible, may … carry firearms; execute and serve search warrants and arrest warrants, and serve subpoenas and summonses issued under authority of the United States.

Claims about armed IRS agents are common fodder for clickbait or sensationalist headlines and claims. In August 2022, Snopes and other outlets debunked overblown claims that the IRS was hiring 87,000 armed agents.

Because the job posting above is legitimate, we rate this claim as "True."


"Criminal Investigator - Direct Hire." USAJOBS, https://www.usajobs.gov:443/GetJob/ViewDetails/706868400. Accessed 2 May 2023.

"Fact Check-The IRS Is Not Hiring Thousands of Armed Agents, Job Ads Show Opening for Specialized Unit." Reuters, 17 Aug. 2022. www.reuters.com, https://www.reuters.com/article/factcheck-irs-armed-idUSL1N2ZT296.

Tabahriti, Sam. "The IRS Is Hiring Special Agents Prepared to Use 'deadly Force' If Needed and Is Paying up to $95,000." Business Insider, https://www.businessinsider.com/irs-hiring-special-agents-prepared-use-deadly-force-2023-4. Accessed 2 May 2023.

Alex Kasprak is an investigative journalist and science writer reporting on scientific misinformation, online fraud, and financial crime.

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