The Supreme Court yesterday decided Kawashima v. Holder, ___ U.S. ___, ___ S.Ct. ___, 2012 U.S. LEXIS 1084 (2012), enhanced opinion available to lexis.com subscribers with summary, headnotes, and Shepard's. (Non-subscribers can download the unenhanced official opinion issued by the United States Supreme Court.)
The bottom line is that tax perjury (Section 7206(1)) and aiding and assisting (Section 7206(2)) involving tax loss exceeding $10,000 are aggravated felonies. I will write more on the decision, probably tomorrow after I have worked through it and the dissents. Just FYI, the majority opinion is by Justice Thomas. The minority opinion is by Justice Ginsburg with Justices Breyer and Kagan concurring.
The issue was necessarily a close one. I don't think there is any "right" answer. I personally prefer Justice Ginsburg's answer, but that does not mean it is the right one. The arguments are good both ways -- Justice Thomas' based on a straight-forward interpretation of the text (except, I think for his foray into tax evasion) and Justice Ginsburg's more nuanced approach. In many -- perhaps most -- of the cases resolved by the Court, there are two or more good answers, without any of them being necessarily the best. The Supreme Court's function is to pick among those arguments and reach a definitive result with a reasoned approach. Both the majority and dissenting opinions present reasoned approaches and the majority opinion reaches the definitive result for the lower courts to apply.
View Jack Townsend's opinion in its entirety on the Federal Tax Crimes blog site.
For additional insight, explore Tax Crimes, authored by Jack Townsend and available at the LexisNexis® Store.
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