Criminal Law

Income Taxes, Employment Taxes, Estate Taxes, Gift Taxes, and Excise Taxes (Other Than Alcohol, Tobacco, and Customs Taxes) - Offenses Involving Taxation

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§2T1.4GUIDELINES MANUALNovember 1, 2005

following examples are illustrative of conduct that is part of the same course of conduct or common scheme or plan: (a) there is a continuing pattern of violations of the tax laws by the defendant; (b) the defendant uses a consistent method to evade or camouflage income, e.g., backdating documents or using off-shore accounts; (c) the violations involve the same or a related series of transactions; (d) the violation in each instance involves a false or inflated claim of a similar deduction or credit; and (e) the violation in each instance involves a failure to report or an understatement of a specific source of income, e.g., interest from savings accounts or income from a particular business activity. These examples are not intended to be exhaustive.

3. "Criminal activity" means any conduct constituting a criminal offense under federal, state, local, or foreign law.

4. Sophisticated Means Enhancement.— For purposes of subsection (b)(2), "sophisticated means" means especially complex or especially intricate offense conduct pertaining to the execution or concealment of an offense. Conduct such as hiding assets or transactions, or both, through the use of fictitious entities, corporate shells, or offshore financial accounts ordinarily indicates sophisticated means.

5. A "credit claimed against tax" is an item that reduces the amount of tax directly. In contrast, a "deduction" is an item that reduces the amount of taxable income.

6. "Gross income," for the purposes of this section, has the same meaning as it has in 26 U.S.C. § 61 and 26 C.F.R. § 1.61.

7. If the offense involved both individual and corporate tax returns, the tax loss is the aggregate tax loss from the individual tax offense and the corporate tax offense added together. Accordingly, in a case in which a defendant fails to report income derived from a corporation on both the defendant’s individual tax return and the defendant’s corporate tax return, the tax loss is the sum of (A) the unreported or diverted amount multiplied by (i) 28%; or (ii) the tax rate for the individual tax offense, if sufficient information is available to make a more accurate assessment of that tax rate; and (B) the unreported or diverted amount multiplied by (i) 34%; or (ii) the tax rate for the corporate tax offense, if sufficient information is available to make a more accurate assessment of that tax rate. For example, the defendant, the sole owner of a Subchapter C corporation, fraudulently understates the corporation’s income in the amount of $100,000 on the corporation’s tax return, diverts the funds to the defendant’s own use, and does not report these funds on the defendant’s individual tax return. For purposes of this example, assume the use of 34% with respect to the corporate tax loss and the use of 28% with respect to the individual tax loss. The tax loss attributable to the defendant’s corporate tax return is $34,000 ($100,000 multiplied by 34%). The tax loss attributable to the defendant’s individual tax return is $28,000 ($100,000 multiplied by 28%). The tax loss for the offenses are added together to equal $62,000 ($34,000 + $28,000).

Background: This guideline relies most heavily on the amount of loss that was the object of the offense. Tax offenses, in and of themselves, are serious offenses; however, a greater tax loss is obviously more harmful to the treasury and more serious than a smaller one with otherwise similar characteristics. Furthermore, as the potential benefit from the offense increases, the sanction necessary to deter also increases.

Under pre-guidelines practice, roughly half of all tax evaders were sentenced to probation

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