Thursday, May 28, 2015

Article on Government's Use of Tax Returns at Trial (5/28/15)

Jeremy Temkin, here, has authored an article titled "The Government's Use of Tax Returns at Trial," published in the New York Law Journal, vol. 253 (5/21/15), here.  The following is his summary which, hopefully, will encourage readers to read the article
                In criminal cases charging tax evasion and filing false returns, the defendant’s income tax returns for the years at issue constitute essential evidence of the alleged criminal conduct.  But courts have also allowed prosecutors in tax cases to offer the defendant’s returns for uncharged years as Rule 404(b) evidence of his knowledge or intent with respect to the charged conduct.  Eve in narcotics and non-tax fraud cases, courts have allowed prosecutors to offer tax returns filed (or not filed) by a defendant to establish some relevant fact, such as unexplained wealth or conduct at odds with the defense presented to the jury.  Such evidence is especially problematic for defense counsel because the defendant’s failure to report certain items of income will often undermine a claim that the funds in question represented legitimate income.  This article addresses the government’s ability to access the defendant’s tax returns in non-tax cases and its ability to use returns not directly at issue in both tax and non-tax cases.

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