Supreme Court limits reach of tax crime statute

Career News Posted on

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday to make it harder for the federal government to use a section of tax law to convict someone of obstruction.

The government had interpreted a section of the tax code to give it a broad ability to charge someone with obstructing or impeding the work of the Internal Revenue Service. It argued that someone could violate the statute by doing something intended to obstruct the IRS' work, like shredding records, even if the person wasn't under investigation at the time or was under investigation but didn't know it.

But the Supreme Court ruled 7 to 2 to limit the application of the statue. The justices said that to convict someone, the government must show a connection between the obstructive action the person takes and a particular investigation or audit that was pending, or at least reasonably foreseeable.

The court's majority opinion pointed out problems with reading the law broadly. "Interpreted broadly, the provision could apply to a person who pays a babysitter $41 per week in cash without withholding taxes, leaves a large cash tip in a restaurant, fails to keep donation receipts from every charity to which he or she contributes, or fails to provide every record to an accountant.

Such an individual may sometimes believe that, in doing so, he is running the risk of having violated an IRS rule, but we sincerely doubt he would believe he is facing a potential felony prosecution for tax obstruction," Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for court.

Legal News Media

Legal News is the top headline legal news provider for lawyers and legalprofessionals. Read law articles and breaking news from law firm's across the United States to get the latest updates. We reserve the right, at our discretion, to change, modify, add, or remove portions of the site at any time. Your This site is solely for your personal use. You are, of course, welcome to print or otherwise copy material from this site for your personal use. However, you may not distribute, exchange, modify, sell or transmit anything you copy from this Site, including but not limited to any text, images, audio and video, for any business, commercial or public purpose. Any unauthorized use of the text, images, audio and video may violate copyright laws, trademark laws, the laws of privacy and publicity and civil and criminal statutes.

 

American Bar Association – Start and Run a Law Firm

NewYorkStateBar.com – Starting a Law Firm

CPA Website Designs