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Tax Crimes: More Aggressive Government Policies and Practices
By Kathryn Keneally, Kenneth M Breen
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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