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Tax prosecutions, convictions up in 2012: IRS report

(Reuters) - More tax-related investigations and prosecutions were launched in 2012 than the year before, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service said on Friday, adding that the probes it launched were more likely to end in conviction.

New investigations, indictments and convictions all rose between 5 percent and 12 percent in fiscal 2012 compared to fiscal 2011, the IRS said.

The increases came despite a decline in the number of special agents and professional staff assigned to the criminal investigations effort, according to the IRS Criminal Investigation annual report for fiscal 2012.

The report highlighted cases such as embezzlement, keeping two sets of books, filing false returns, bank secrecy, narcotics, offshore Internet gambling and money laundering.

One surprise in the report was a decline in the number of investigations initiated by the group's international operations. Despite high-profile cases involving secret Swiss bank accounts and offshore tax havens, the number of new international cases fell to 211 in 2012, from 244 in 2011.

There were 898 identity theft-related criminal investigations in fiscal 2012, more than three times 2011's 276.

The number of ID theft cases referred for prosecution jumped to 544 in 2012 from 218 in 2011, as did the number of people sentenced to jail for such crimes at 223 in 2012 versus 80 the year before, according to the report.

(Reporting by Nanette Byrnes; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Doina Chiacu)