Most everyone who has had to deal with the Internal Revenue Service, especially during tax season, knows that IRS agents can be overworked and, sometimes, may act a bit harassed. Considering the number of people seeking information about their tax refunds every April, it may be natural that, every once in a while, one individual’s actions become confused. Apparently, one such San Jose man was so eager to get his tax refund from the years 2007 and 2008 that he has been accused of threatening an IRS official over the phone on several occasions, over the course of which he allegedly used profanity. Additionally, this same official claims that he used her voicemail service at lease 23 times within less than the span of an hour to leave threatening messages. Lastly, he stands accused of causing trouble when he visited a San Jose IRS office in person. In sum, the agency maintains that he tried to hit a guard with his head and spit on another security official. He has been officially charged with threatening to kill representatives of the IRS because, after he was asked never to return, he warned that he would leave and then return with a gun.
On the face of it, this story seems to be yet another, perhaps understandable, tale of a disgruntled taxpayer fighting for his rights. However, federal officials and agencies do not take threats lightly and this man may end up incarcerated for an extended period of time. 18 U.S. Code 871 makes it a serious crime to threaten anyone who could be considered a government official and this includes IRS agents across the nation. In fact, the government classifies different violations of federal law using an offense class system that spans from “Class A” to “Class E” felonies (it is the same for misdemeanors). Threatening a government official is listed as a “Class D” felony and the penalties are 5 to 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.