The Champion

April 2006 , Page 60 

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Tax Crimes: More Aggressive Government Policies and Practices

By Kathryn Keneally, Kenneth M Breen

Read more White-Collar Crime columns.

Tax Crimes: More Aggressive Government Policies And Practices

The statutes that criminalize tax offenses include a heightened scienter requirement .1 Thus to convict a defendant under these statutes, the government must prove that the defendant acted “willfully,” which the Supreme Court has consistently held to require “the Government to prove that the law imposed a duty on the defendant, that the defendant knew of this duty, and that he voluntarily and intentionally violated that duty.”2  

The heightened scienter requirements for tax crimes reflects sound policy and common sense: the tax system is one place where the government interacts with virtually the entire citizenry, and the system is not a simple one. Noncompliance that results from less than willful conduct — from confusion, negligence, mistake, or ignorance of the duties imposed under the tax laws — should not result in criminal penalties. Now the U.S. Department of Justice Tax Division is showing a remarkable willingness to

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