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James Lee to Lead IRS Criminal Investigations

The Internal Revenue Service is changing the guard in its Criminal Investigation (CI) division. James Lee, the current deputy chief of the division and a 25-year IRS veteran, will take the reins from retiring Chief Don Fort.

Fort will step down Sept. 30 after leading CI since 2017. Fort began his IRS career in 1991 as a special agent in CI’s Baltimore District.

IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig says Lee brings a lot of experience to his new position.

“Jim is highly respected throughout the IRS and will continue long-standing working relationships with the civil enforcement functions of the IRS as well as with the Department of Justice's Tax Division and tax prosecutors throughout the country. He understands the need to support compliant taxpayers by maintaining a strong, robust enforcement effort focused on those who are compliance challenged," Retting said.

Wide-Ranging Responsibilities

As Chief of the Criminal Investigation division, Lee will lead enforcement efforts to investigate tax code violations and other related yet diverse financial crimes such as money laundering, public corruption, cybercrimes, identity theft, narcotics and terrorist financing.

Before becoming Deputy Chief, Lee served as Director of Field Operations, Northern Area, overseeing CI enforcement in Boston, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Philadelphia field offices. He also previously served as Director of Field Operations, Southern Area and the Director of Strategy.

The new Chief started his IRS career in 1995, when he was special agent in Detroit. He later moved into CI’s leadership ranks, serving in increasingly responsible positions as he ascended the management ladder.

His experience included Supervisory Special Agent in the New Orleans Field Office; Headquarters Senior Analyst in the International and Financial Crimes Sections; Assistant Special Agent in Charge within the Boston Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge of the New Orleans Field Office and later the Chicago Field Office.

Lee has a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree with a concentration in Accounting from Tiffin University in Ohio.

Some Big Shoes to Fill

Commissioner Rettig said Lee will follow a path blazed by his predecessor in the Chief’s office. Fort’s contributions to CI, Rettig noted, will only put Lee in a better position to lead the division from here.

"Don has been a remarkable leader and champion for IRS Criminal Investigation," Rettig said. "He has a distinguished career and the entire IRS leadership team appreciates everything he has done to uphold the law and support tax administration. We look forward to Don's remaining time at the IRS as well as Jim taking on a new role and building on the great tradition in CI."

Bob Williams

Forget genes; I’ve got words in my DNA. Communication has been part of who I am nearly all my life. From a long career in radio news to another one in newspapers – and a University of Georgia journalism degree sandwiched between the two – language has been my life. I’ve also been fortunate to have learned the tax business from the ground up here at Drake, starting with 1040.com online forms some years ago before moving on to work on the Web. In all things tax-ish, we aim to give you tools you can use.

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