Differences Between the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and the IRS

Do you understand the differences between the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and the IRS? If not, you’re not alone.

Let’s clear up your confusion about these two very closely associated components of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.


The primary function of FinCEN is to protect the U.S. financial system from any improper financial conduct and to stop money laundering. The bureau collects and maintains financial performance data and examines such data for law enforcement goals.

FinCEN has authority over central collection as well as the analysis of data on both a federal and state level. It also:

  • Oversees the acquisition, storage, distribution, and security of data recorded following FinCEN’s obligations.
  • Sustains a comprehensive government admittance service that provides access to all FinCEN’s data.
  • Assists law enforcement with probes and accusations.
  • Manufactures data to promote inner and outer allocation of information to regions with the highest chance of financial crime.
  • Administers relevant data and knowledge while working with non-U.S. financial intelligence.
  • Leads data examination to assist lawmakers, law implementation authorities, and intelligence bureaus and financial commerce.


While the FinCEN deals mainly with problem-makers, the IRS exists to help law-abiding taxpayers follow tax law properly—and to make sure that those who fail to comply pay their dues. The IRS administers help to taxpayers and resolves situations involving incorrect or purposeful deceitful tax filing.

To sum up the differences:

  • FinCEN guards against money laundering by interpreting data about financial crimes and keeping government agencies informed;
  • The IRS collects taxes by regulating and adhering to the Internal Revenue Code.

Are you facing a challenge related to FinCEN or the IRS (or both)? For instance, maybe you failed to file your FBAR, and you’re panicking about potential penalties or an audit. Contact the Highland Tax Group team at 720-398-6088 for immediate insight about how to handle the crisis, or visit the HTG website for more information.