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Supreme Court Rules on Tax Evasion

The Supreme Court recently issued a surprise ruling.

In a ruling that no doubt will breathe new life into the "tax protestor" movement, the United States Supreme Court ruled that taxpayers cannot be guilty of a criminal violation of the tax law for taking positions based on ignorance or a misunderstanding of the law, or a sincere belief that they are not violating the law.

The tax law imposes criminal penalties upon a taxpayer "who willfully attempts in any manner to evade or defeat" the federal income tax. A commercial airline pilot who failed to pay taxes or file returns for several years was prosecuted on several counts of willfully violating the law. He maintained that he could not be convicted of willfully violating the law since he had a good faith belief that he was not a taxpayer and that wages are not taxable. The taxpayer's beliefs arose from his own study of the constitution and federal tax law, and from information he received ...

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  • May 1, 1991

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