The investigative authority of the Internal Revenue Service (hereinafter I.R.S.) derives from section 7602 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954. Under that section, the Secretary of the Treasury or his delegate is authorized to examine books, papers, records and other data, and to take testimony for the purpose of "ascertaining the correctness of any return, . . . determining the liability of any person for any internal revenue tax . . ., or collecting any such liability. The Secretary or his delegate is further authorized under section 7602
To summon the person liable for tax . . .or any person having possession, custody, or care of books of account containing entries relating to the business of the person liable for tax . . .or any other person the Secretary or his delegate may deem proper, to appear . . . and to produce such books, papers, records, or other data, and to give such testimony, under oath, as may be relevant or material to such inquiry . . .
Section 7602 does not, however, provide the I.R.S. with the power to enforce its own summonses. In order for the I.R.S. to compel compliance with a summons, it must bring an enforcement proceeding in a federal district court. Jurisdiction of the district courts to entertain such suits is established under section 7604 (a) of the Internal Revenue code of 1954. In addition section 7604(b) provides for contempt proceedings in district court or before a United States commissioner for any person who "neglects or refuses" to comply with an I.R.S. summons.
The I.R.S.'s lack of internal enforcement powers is significant in that the determination as to enforcement is made in an adversarial setting in which the person summoned and other interested parties have an opportunity to raise objections to such enforcement.
"Part II: Student Comment: Use of the Summons, Intervention and Constitutional Rights,"
Hofstra Law Review: Vol. 2
, Article 6.
Available at: https://scholarlycommons.law.hofstra.edu/hlr/vol2/iss1/6