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Department of Taxation and Finance

NYS Tax Department Announces $750,000 Grant to Fund Digital Forensics Lab Funds obtained from Manhattan District Attorney support advanced crime-fighting initiative

For Release: Immediate,

For press inquiries only, contact: James Gazzale, 518-457-7377

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance has received a $750,000 grant financed through criminal forfeiture funds obtained by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. The grant will help fund innovative tools and resources for tax enforcement programs.

“In our drive to stay a step ahead of tax criminals and their evolving schemes, it’s critical that we have the sophisticated tools and resources we need to detect and successfully prosecute their illegal enterprises,” said Acting Commissioner Nonie Manion. “We thank District Attorney Vance for this grant, which will help our department—nationally recognized for its cutting-edge tax administration and enforcement capabilities—enhance and expand its operations.”

The grant will allow the Tax Department to:

  • upgrade its digital evidence lab, which serves its Criminal Investigations Division (CID) and its Office of Internal Affairs (OIA);
  • bolster its data analytics program and related training; and
  • acquire surveillance vehicles to help stem the trafficking and sale of untaxed tobacco products and investigate other criminal activities.

The Tax Department’s Cigarette Strike Force, for example, has seized nearly 34,000 cartons of cigarettes, more than 134,000 cigars, more than 2,600 pounds of tobacco, and made nearly four dozen arrests tied to the illegal sale of untaxed tobacco since January 2016 alone.

Computers and other electronic devices—from flash drives to cell phones—are increasingly used by criminals to facilitate their activities and often contain a trove of useful data. CID will use the upgraded technology to continue its crackdown on business owners and individuals who evade taxes and try to game the system, tax preparers filing fraudulent tax returns, identity thieves, and cases of public corruption.

Right tools for access

OIA investigates employee misconduct, as well as phone scams, phishing schemes, and other criminal interference targeting agency operations and confidential taxpayer information. To build cases for prosecution, the Tax Department’s investigators need the right tools to access and analyze digital evidence.  

“We’re proud to fund this significant investment in the Tax Department’s enforcement capabilities with ill-gotten gains seized in our investigations against major banks,” said District Attorney Vance. “Our strong partnership with the Tax Department has enabled us to return $65.7 million to New York taxpayers through the Crimes Against Revenue Program since 2009. With today’s investment, Tax Department professionals will be even better positioned to enforce tax obligations which fund critical programs and services across the state.”

Tax criminals steal state and local revenue that supports valuable public services New Yorkers rely on each day. This $750,000 grant will help bring more to justice and level the playing field for the overwhelming majority of New Yorkers who voluntarily comply with New York State tax laws.