As this whistleblower lawyer blog has discussed before, accounting firms that promote fraudulent tax shelters are prime targets of IRS enforcement efforts (often assisted by IRS tax whistleblowers).
In a decision last week, the prosecution of 13 former KPMG partners and other executives for their alleged involvement in fraudulent tax shelters was thwarted–again. A panel of judges from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the trial judge’s dismissal of the charges against these KPMG defendants.
The court did not find the tax shelters to be lawful, however. Instead, it agreed with the trial court that “the government deprived [the defendants] of their right to counsel under the Sixth Amendment by causing KPMG to place conditions on the advancement of legal fees to [the defendants], and to cap the fees and ultimately end them. Because the government failed to cure the Sixth Amendment violation, and because no other remedy will return [the defendants] to the status quo ante, we affirm the dismissal of the indictment.”
We await the government’s announcement whether it will ask the entire court to reconsider its ruling; seek review by the Supreme Court; or seek to bring other charges.
As we have written, tax fraud, tax evasion, and other violations of IRS laws, rules and regulations can be addressed–in criminal and civil cases, often with the help of whistleblowers–without violating the Constitution. Those enforcement efforts must continue, so that honest citizens do not get stuck paying more than their fair share of the tax burden.