Paul L. Caron

Monday, October 2, 2023

Former Assistant Attorney General: Hunter Biden May Face A Big Tax Bill

Wall Street Journal Op-Ed:  Hunter Biden May Face a Big Tax Bill, by Eileen J. O’Connor (Assistant Attorney General, Tax Division, U.S. Department of Justice (2001-2007)):

Special counsel David Weiss has charged Hunter Biden with making false statements on an application to purchase a gun. (Mr. Biden has pleaded not guilty.) Now go collect the taxes.

After working on it for about three years, Internal Revenue Service criminal investigators submitted a lengthy “Special Agent Report” to the Justice Department’s Tax Division, recommending that prosecutors bring felony charges against Mr. Biden for 2014 and 2018 for willful attempt to evade or defeat taxes and willful filing of a false return. Both are felonies punishable by a fine of up to $100,000 and prison time, up to five years for the former offense, three for the latter. The report also recommended that Mr. Biden be charged with willful failure to file returns or pay taxes for each of five years, 2015-19. These are misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in prison or $25,000, or both. Special agent Joseph Ziegler testified that the Tax Division produced a 99-page memo authorizing these criminal charges. ...

Ordinarily, the IRS must assess taxes and begin proceedings to collect them within three years of the date the return reporting them is filed. But when no return is filed, or when the return is false, fraudulent or otherwise represents a willful attempt to defeat or evade tax, the statute of limitations doesn’t start running.

The report the special agents submitted to the Tax Division claimed that Mr. Biden’s violations of tax law were willful. Can it be credibly argued that tax returns omitting millions of dollars of taxable income are not false or fraudulent? ...

[T]he statute of limitations begins to run when the last affirmative act of concealment occurs. So if income is received in year one and not reported, and the last action undertaken to conceal it occurred in year five, it is in year five that the statute of limitations begins to run.

It would be an error to conclude that the statute of limitations on criminal charges has expired without considering whether acts of concealment prevented or delayed its start date. In fulfillment of its oversight obligation, Congress must continue its efforts to see that the laws it has passed are enforced.

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