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Applicants must be under 37, unless they are eligible veterans. They must also have a valid driver's license when appointed. Those applying to lowest level of Grade 5 must have at least a bachelor's degree with at least 15 semester hours in accounting, plus additional hours in related fields such as finance or economics. Or they may have three years of business experience or a Certified Public Accountant Certificate. Those applying for Grade 7 must have at least a full year of graduate-level education or a year of criminal investigations. Finally, those applying at Grade 9 must have two full years of progressively higher graduate education, or a master's degree or equivalent. Combinations of education and experience are also acceptable for any grade level.
IRS special agents receive compensation based on the law enforcement tables used by all government employees. These tables divide jobs into grade levels based on experience and education. Pay can also vary by geographic location, since costs of living differ among areas where agents can be assigned. Agents coming in at Grades 5 or 7 earn a range of $41,167 to $51,857 per year, and those entering at Grade 9 get $50,293 to $64,894 annually. These ranges include 25 percent for Law Enforcement Availability Pay, which
covers about 10 hours of overtime per week.
Regardless of their background, those hired as IRS special agents must undergo a training program at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia, where they earn their salaries from the first day. The Criminal Investigation Training Program lasts nine weeks and is common to all federal law enforcement agents. It covers investigation techniques, criminal law, courtroom procedures, enforcement operations, firearms, self-defense and interview skills. They then continue with 16 weeks of specialized training that covers tax law, tax fraud, money laundering, electronic surveillance, forensic science procedures, trial prep and testifying.
As part of their compensation, IRS special agents enjoy the same benefits as all government employees. This includes insurance for health, vision, dental and long-term care. A Flexible Spending Account allows tax-free savings to pay for uncovered medical expenses. Special agents can retire at age 50 after 20 years of federal law enforcement service, or at any age after 25 years of service. They are covered under the Federal Employees Retirement System, which provides income from a basic annuity, Social Security and a Thrift Savings Plan. The government matches contributions to the Thrift Saving Plan dollar for dollar up to 3 percent, and 50 cents on the dollar on the next 2 percent.