The mission of the Criminal Investigation Division is to deter intentional criminal conduct against the state tax laws administered by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. This deterrence is achieved by detecting and investigating felony and misdemeanor tax-related crimes, and by informing the public of the results of case prosecution.
Administrative Search Authority
Because of the substantial interest the state has in enforcing its state tax laws, the Legislature, in 1981, granted the Comptroller the authority to conduct administrative searches, called “inspections,” in a number of tax contexts. These inspections, which are a type of warrantless search, are defined by statute as to time, place, and scope.
The authority to conduct an inspection is tax-specific; one must look to each individual tax code chapter to see the particular administrative search authority granted for that particular tax type. Most statutes authorize the inspection — during business hours at the business location — of books, records and equipment relating to that business. State law usually requires such records to be kept for four years. For investigations related to motor fuels, Comptroller personnel also may inspect premises and sample specific products.
Some Tax Code chapters also allow for administrative seizures of taxable products as well as property used by persons intending to avoid payment of taxes, including automobiles, equipment and other personal tangible property.
Statutory authority commonly exercised by CID includes:
- Motor Fuels Tax
- Motor Vehicles Tax
Ensuring proper records are kept is vital to the integrity of the state tax laws, since the documentation of taxable events provides the basis for much state revenue. The failure to abide by statutory recordkeeping requirements is criminal under most Tax Code chapters and may be considered a felony in some situations. Failure to allow Comptroller personnel access to conduct inspections also can bring criminal penalties.
CID regularly conducts inspections in accordance with its statutory authority. Searches beyond the scope of this statutory authority may also be conducted by CID based on search warrants issued after probable cause determinations, or based on factual situations falling within exceptions to the warrant requirement.