Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Third Circuit Holds That Tax Loss for Tax Crimes Sentencing Calculations is the Intended Loss Rather than Actual Loss (5/10/23)

In United States v. Upshur, 67 F.4th 178 (3rd Cir. 5/8/23), CA3 here and GS here, the Court held that the loss driving the Tax Table at U.S.S.G. § 2T4.1, here, is the intended loss rather than the actual loss to the Treasury.  The holding is driven by the language in the Guideline itself: “the tax loss is the total amount of loss that was the object of the offense (i.e., the loss that would have resulted had the offense been successfully completed).” § 2T1.1(c), here

That only became an issue because the Third Circuit held in United States v. Banks, 55 F.4th 246 (3d Cir. 2022) that, for larceny and related financial crimes in U.S.S.G. § 2B1.1, the “loss” (meaning actual loss) is the measure. Both results were driven by the plain meaning of the respective terms in the Guidelines.

 The case highlights a possible disconnect between the sentencing for the two types of financial crimes. It is not apparent from the Guidelines why there is a difference, but as the plain text of both Guidelines provisions establishes, there is a difference.

The Court also said (Slip Op. 6 n.1):

   n1 Because we conclude that the text of § 2T1.1(c)(1) is unambiguous, we need not go further and examine its “structure, history, and purpose” or determine if the relevant Guidelines Commentary merits Auer deference. See Kisor, 139 S. Ct. at 2415.

Auer deference in the Guidelines context would be Commentary interpretation of the Guidelines (which for deference is treated like a notice and comment regulations).

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