Seton Hall Students Get Hands-On Training from IRS Criminal Investigation
The event had students participate in the day-long simulation to learn what skills it takes to have a career tracking the intricacies of complex financial investigations, ultimately arresting the "bad guys."
A select group of Seton Hall University students got an unusual opportunity on April 28 — the chance to participate in a day-long investigation led by special agents from the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Newark Field Office. During the IRS Citizen Academy, approximately 20 undergraduate and graduate students from Seton Hall's accounting and criminal justice programs were "sworn in" as honorary agents for the day by Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jenifer Piovesan. The goal of the event was to provide the students with hands-on experience of what it is like to be an IRS-CI special agent.
The event had students participate in the day-long simulation to learn what skills it takes to have a career tracking the intricacies of complex financial investigations. The simulation involved a series of exercises, starting with an informant who provided information to the students. The students were then required to ask follow-up questions to determine what route they should take. They spent time poring through various documents, including criminal histories, mortgages, tax returns and bank accounts.
The students then showed up at a mock office, knocked on the door of a return preparer, and conducted an interview. They received a full hour of defensive tactics training, which included learning how to properly make an arrest and clear a room. After learning their targets would be meeting outside on campus, the students conducted surveillance, met with a magistrate judge to present their case for arrest warrants, and ultimately arrested their "bad guys."
“IRS Criminal Investigation citizen academies are a once-in-a-lifetime educational experience for the students,” said Robert Glantz, IRS Special Agent in the Newark Field Office. “Citizen academies are amazing opportunities to get out in our community and educate the students and public about who and what IRS criminal investigation special agents do every day to protect national security and the American public by combating financial crimes.”
As the law enforcement branch of the IRS, Criminal Investigation’s mission is to “serve the American public by investigating potential criminal violations of the Internal Revenue Code, and related financial crimes, in a manner that fosters confidence in the tax system and compliance with the law.”
Visiting Instructor Avery Neumark, IRS Special Agent Robert Glantz, and Chair of the Department of Accounting and Taxation Mark Holtzman partnered on the event.
Mark Holtzman, C.P.A., Ph.D., chair of the department of accounting and taxation, explained that their program aims to bridge the gap between theory and practice, by teaching students not just the concepts of accounting that are essential for all accountants, but also by giving them the opportunity to experience how these concepts play out in real-world situations. “This event was a prime example of providing a meaningful experiential learning experience. The participating students, who came from diverse backgrounds including accounting and criminal justice, were able to witness how their classroom learning translates into practical scenarios,” said Holtzman.
He added that many Seton Hall students gain similar experiences through professional internships and volunteering as income tax preparers for those who cannot afford professional services, which helps to bring their textbook learning to life.
“In our tax courses, we not only teach the rules, but also impart our experiences in tax practice. By participating in the IRS Citizen Academy program, our students are exposed to the actual operations of a division of the IRS,” said Avery Neumark, J.D., LL.M., C.P.A., visiting instructor in the department of accounting and taxation. “Since the event, some of our students indicated to me they are now considering careers at the IRS.”
During the IRS Citizen Academy, undergraduate and graduate students from Seton Hall's accounting and criminal justice programs were "sworn in" as honorary agents.
The exercise shed some light on how the IRS operates. “I was very happy to hear the CI division did not go after people who make a mistake while filing their taxes. Instead, this division goes after people and businesses that knowingly and purposely set out to defraud the government,” said Patrick Stesner, an incoming MBA - Accounting student, who also appreciated the agents’ approach to working with the students. “They were all kind and understood they were dealing with people who had no experience with investigative work. They relayed their information in a palatable manner.”
Robert Wilmot, sophomore accounting and economics major, shared that he thought it was a great opportunity to participate in an activity that wasn’t previously offered on campus. “We learned about aspects of accounting in a field in which you wouldn’t think it would apply.”