Saturday, May 25, 2024

Federal Tax Crimes Blog Total Pageviews Hit 10 Million + and Thoughts on Comments to Blogs (5/25/24)

I just noticed in the innards of this Federal Tax Crimes Blog that the blog has had over 10 million pageviews. I went into the design features and found a “gadget” that I added to the right-hand column with the total pageviews which, as of this posting, was 10,092,710.

On Blog Comments:

The comments feature (by Disqus) for some reason unknown to me does not seem now to work for readers of this blog anymore. I don’t have the technical skills to make the nested comments feature work, so I will soon go back to the Google blogspot comments feature which will work without nesting offered by Disqus. Nesting, by the way, permits responses to particular comments rather than simply first in first out,. When I do make that change, I think that all of the prior comments will go away and be lost forever. But, on an ongoing basis, this should permit comments for those wishing to share comments with readers.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Swiss Bank Spins on Facilitating U.S. Tax Evasion (5/23/24)

 I link to a new posting summarizing one Swiss view of the Swiss-U.S. tax dispute. The power the US wields over the Swiss financial centre ( 5/22/24), here. The article emphasizes the U.S. political power that resulted in Swiss banks disclosing and paying the price for conspiring with U.S. taxpayers to evade their U.S. tax obligations. The latter activity was not forced on Swiss banks. They could have refused to participate (conspire with) the U.S. taxpayers. They did not so in order to earn more profits. They were called out and made to pay the piper. Not much sympathy there.

I guess the message is that, if the U.S. had not had such financial power, their assisting in U.S. tax cheating was OK.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Fourth Circuit Affirms Criminal Tax Sentences in Unpublished Opinion that Is Good for Teaching (5/162/24)

In United States v. Rice, 2024 U.S. App. LEXIS 11329, 2024 WL 2078454 (4th Cir. 5/9/24), CA4 here and GS here, an unpublished opinion, the Court affirmed the Rices’ convictions and sentencing. Normally, I don’t write on unpublished opinions, but I thought this opinion had some interesting facets which are good teaching opportunities for students or relatively new tax crimes practitioners.

First, the opinion says at the opening (slip op. 3):

James and Susan Rice (collectively, Appellants) appeal their conviction and sentence on ten counts relating to their failure to file tax returns and failure to pay employment taxes to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Finding no error, we affirm.

Second, the Court provides a short summary of the facts, among which was the following (slip op. 4):

Appellants were jointly represented by trial counsel.

In my experience joint representation in a criminal case is very unusual. The concern is that the two defendants might have different interests which would compromise the joint representation. For example, one defendant may have an interest in obtaining the benefits of cooperation (such as no prosecution or a better plea deal) or presenting evidence of a defense which might not be in the other defendant’s interest. I entered such a joint representation with two family members once. After extensive discussion with the defendants, I satisfied myself that there was nothing other than a theoretical possibility of conflict; and they waived the possibility of conflict. Nevertheless, the judge expressed displeasure. Recognizing that it was not in the defendants’ interests to displease the judge, at my advice that it was not worth the hassle, one of the defendants quickly engaged new counsel (a former colleague) and, as often in tax prosecution, both defendants took the same plea deal (without any actual conflict between the defendants).

The joint representation was raised in the ineffective assistance of counsel (“IAC”) claim on appeal, to which I now turn.

Third, the opinion rejected an IAC claim on this direct appeal. The Court noted (slip op. p. 4-8):