TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Saturday, January 12, 2013

9th Circuit: Lawyer Can't Keep Tax Records from IRS

The Recorder:  Ninth Circuit Says Lawyer Can't Keep Tax Records from IRS:

An Oakland lawyer facing federal tax evasion charges will have to turn over her tax records, even though they're in the possession of her lawyers. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled Tuesday that divorce lawyer Mary Nolan's 2007 and 2008 tax records are not shielded by attorney-client privilege because her tax preparer can describe them with particularity, rendering their existence a foregone conclusion. ...

Tuesday's decision in U.S. v. Sideman & Bancroft is as interesting because of who's involved than for the legal principle established. Nolan was indicted in September — a week after arguments before the Ninth Circuit — both for tax evasion and for allegedly conspiring with a disgraced private investigator to eavesdrop on her clients' spouses. Nolan was represented before the Ninth Circuit by Sideman partner Jay Weill, the longtime tax chief for the U.S. attorney's office in San Francisco, though Berkeley's Cooper Arguedas & Cassman took over after the indictment was handed up.

The fight over the tax records began two years ago when the IRS issued a lengthy subpoena. It covered four banker boxes and three accordion files containing check ledgers, client billings, credit card statements and day planners, among other things, that Nolan had supplied to her accountant to prepare her tax return. The same day the IRS executed a search of Nolan's home and office, the accountant gave the documents — contained in the four banker boxes and three accordion folders — to Nolan's civil tax attorney, who in turn provided them to Sideman & Bancroft.

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