Stand up for the facts!
Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.
I would like to contribute
If Your Time is short
Border Patrol agents may use deadly force if they believe there is danger of death or severe injury to themselves or another person, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s use-of-force policy.
IRS special agents in the agency’s Criminal Investigation division train with tactical gear and breaching equipment, but the agency’s policy is to let other specially trained agencies lead if a raid is deemed “high-risk.”
IRS special agents do not handle routine audits that most Americans face. They investigate a variety of financial crimes, including money laundering and fraud.
A social media user combined anxiety about crossings at the U.S. southern border and the future hiring of new IRS agents to create a post that’s misleading and incorrect.
"America now has a government that forbids Border agents from using deadly force … but is training IRS agents to use SWAT Team tactics on law abiding citizens," the Instagram post, shared Aug. 21, read.
The post is among many misleading claims about the IRS that have surfaced since President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law Aug. 16, providing the agency with $80 billion in funding over 10 years. Many falsely claimed the IRS is hiring 87,000 new, armed IRS agents who will target middle-class taxpayers.
The Instagram post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
The post is wrong about Border Patrol agents’ ability to use deadly force, and it misleads about the role of IRS agents and how they interact with taxpayers.
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection use-of-force policy dated January 2021 specifies that deadly force may be used by Border Patrol agents if those agents recognize a sufficient threat.
The agency "is entrusted with the critical responsibility of protecting our nation’s borders," it reads. "This mandate carries with it the authority to use force up to and including the use of deadly force."
Such force is considered "necessary" when there is a "reasonable belief that the subject of such force poses an imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury" to the agent or another person, the policy says.
Yolanda Choates, a CBP spokesperson, confirmed to PolitiFact that agents may use lethal force to enforce the law.
A Border Patrol Tactical Unit fatally shot the gunman in the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting on May 24, in which 19 students and two teachers were killed. In addition, CBP press statements show there have been at least three other fatal use-of-force incidents involving Border Patrol agents in 2022.
Within the IRS, the agents whom typical taxpayers would encounter in a routine audit do not carry weapons. The agency does, however, have a Criminal Investigation division.
There were 2,046 agents in that division in 2021, a small fraction of the IRS’ roughly 80,000-member workforce. Those agents carry weapons and investigate crimes such as money laundering, fraud and narcotics-related financial cases. They are permitted to use deadly force if needed, according to a job description and an IRS webpage.
The agents undergo extensive firearms training, which includes drills using tactical gear and breaching equipment, according to an IRS description of the agents’ training program.
But IRS policy is to assess risk before any raid involving the special agents. If entry is determined to be "high-risk," the agents will not enter, according to the IRS.
In those cases, "specially trained entry teams from other local, state, or federal agencies will be considered," and special agents may conduct their search after the scene has been secured, the agency said.
An Instagram post claimed "America now has a government that forbids Border agents from using deadly force … but is training IRS agents to use SWAT Team tactics on law abiding citizens."
Border Patrol agents are permitted to use deadly force if they believe they or another person are at risk of death or injury.
A small group of IRS agents — special agents in the Criminal Investigation division — can also use deadly force. But such force is not randomly employed on typical taxpayers, as the post claimed. Americans facing routine audits do not encounter these agents.
IRS special agents train with tactical gear and breaching equipment. However, IRS policy is to assess risk before entering a home or business in a criminal investigation, and if the situation is deemed high-risk, a specially trained team will secure the location instead.
We rate this claim False.
Instagram post on Aug. 21, 2022
Email exchange with Yolanda Choates, spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protections, Sept, 29, 2022
U.S. Customs and Border Protections, "CBP Use of Force Policy," Jan. 2021
U.S. Customs and Border Protections, "Use of Force Policy and Administrative Guidelines and Procedures Handbook," May 23, 2022
U.S. Customs and Border Protections, "Law Enforcement on a Constitutional Scale," accessed Sept. 29, 2022
U.S. Customs and Border Protections, "Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC) fact sheet," accessed Sept. 29, 2022
U.S. Customs and Border Protections, "CBP Use of Force Case Summaries," accessed Sept. 29, 2022
U.S. Customs and Border Protections, "Speeches and statements," accessed Sept. 29, 2022
The Associated Press, "Tactical team, not off-duty agent, killed Uvalde gunman," June 3, 2022
The Washington Post, "Gunman emerged from classroom closet firing at Border Patrol agents, official says," May 27, 2022
IRS, "IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent," accessed Sept, 29, 2022
IRS, "Part 9. Criminal Investigation, Skills and Training," accessed Sept. 29, 2022
IRS, "Criteria of a High Risk Situation," accessed Sept. 29, 2022
IRS, "Criminal Investigation (CI) At-a-Glance," accessed Sept. 29, 2022
IRS, "When deadly force may be used," Sept. 29, 2022
PolitiFact, "Video misleads about size of IRS, audits and armed agents," Aug. 18, 2022
PolitiFact, "No, Biden is not arming up the IRS with guns and ammunition," Aug. 12, 2022
Read About Our Process
In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.