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Section Five: Fifth Amendment/Tax -- Fifth Amendment and Tax Returns: The Viability of the Deferred Filing/Current Payment of Tax Approach Pending a Criminal Investigation (From Readings in White-Collar Crime, P 211-240, 1991, John Lichtenberger, ed. -- See NCJ-129577)

NCJ Number
J S Siffert; M I Saltzman
Date Published
30 pages
Underlying principles and public policies that courts have advanced as reasons to require the filing of accurate tax returns are examined, and various strategies that the defense counsel has employed to avoid self-incrimination on tax returns are discussed.
The Internal Revenue Code obligates taxpayers to file returns and pay taxes at the time required. Accordingly, the chance that information a taxpayer under investigation provides on the current year's return will be incriminating brings into play the taxpayer's fifth amendment rights. The fifth amendment, however, does not relieve a taxpayer from the obligation to file a tax return. A taxpayer who wishes to claim a privilege against compulsory self-incrimination must file a tax return and claim the privilege on a specific question or questions. Counsel has considered different strategies to protect clients from the disclosure of incriminating information to the government during the pendency of grand jury proceedings. When it is known that a criminal tax investigation has already begun, it would be hazardous to advise a client to file amended tax returns for the years under investigation, since statements made on a tax return constitute admissions. Current return strategies include anonymous return and payment, the fifth amendment return, and deferred filing and payment of tax. 102 notes