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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November 1, 2005GUIDELINES MANUAL§2T1.9

(a) Base Offense Level (Apply the greater):

(1) Offense level determined from §2T1.1 or §2T1.4, as appropriate; or

(2) 10.

(b) Specific Offense Characteristics

If more than one applies, use the greater:

(1) If the offense involved the planned or threatened use of violence to impede, impair, obstruct, or defeat the ascertainment, computation, assessment, or collection of revenue, increase by 4 levels.

(2) If the conduct was intended to encourage persons other than or in addition to co-conspirators to violate the internal revenue laws or impede, impair, obstruct, or defeat the ascertainment, computation, assessment, or collection of revenue, increase by 2 levels. Do not, however, apply this adjustment if an adjustment from §2T1.4(b)(1) is applied.


Statutory Provision: 18 U.S.C. § 371.

Application Notes:

1. This section applies to conspiracies to "defraud the United States by impeding, impairing, obstructing and defeating . . . the collection of revenue." United States v. Carruth, 699 F.2d 1017, 1021 (9th Cir. 1983), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 1038 (1984). See also United States v. Browning, 723 F.2d 1544 (11th Cir. 1984); United States v. Klein, 247 F.2d 908, 915 (2d Cir. 1957), cert. denied, 355 U.S. 924 (1958). It does not apply to taxpayers, such as a husband and wife, who merely evade taxes jointly or file a fraudulent return.

2. The base offense level is the offense level (base offense level plus any applicable specific offense characteristics) from §2T1.1 or §2T1.4 (whichever guideline most closely addresses the harm that would have resulted had the conspirators succeeded in impeding, impairing, obstructing, or defeating the Internal Revenue Service) if that offense level is greater than 10. Otherwise, the base offense level is 10.

3. Specific offense characteristics from §2T1.9(b) are to be applied to the base offense level determined under §2T1.9(a)(1) or (2).

4. Subsection (b)(2) provides an enhancement where the conduct was intended to encourage persons, other than the participants directly involved in the offense, to violate the tax laws (e.g., an offense involving a "tax protest" group that encourages persons to violate the tax laws, or an offense involving the marketing of fraudulent tax shelters or schemes).

Background: This type of conspiracy generally involves substantial sums of money. It also typically is complex and may be far-reaching, making it quite difficult to evaluate the extent of the revenue loss

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