10 Updates

Lois Lerner Of IRS Is Held In Contempt, Next Prosecution?

May 8 2014, 5:23am CDT | by

Lois Lerner, the former Director of Tax Exempt Organizations at the IRS, has been found in contempt of Congress by a vote of 231 to 187. Now she may face prosecution.  She is retired now (with...

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11 weeks ago

Lois Lerner Of IRS Is Held In Contempt, Next Prosecution?

May 8 2014, 5:23am CDT | by

Lois Lerner, the former Director of Tax Exempt Organizations at the IRS, has been found in contempt of Congress by a vote of 231 to 187. Now she may face prosecution.  She is retired now (with pension) and still stays mum. But when she testified before Congress, she read a statement saying she did nothing wrong.

Controversially, she then  invoked the Fifth Amendment. The inconsistency can be viewed as a waiver of that right, and legal opinions vary. But with sensitive tax issues and stake, whether it was a waiver or not, Republicans sure didn’t like it.

The House passed this resolution:

Recommending that the House of Representatives find Lois G. Lerner, former Director, Exempt Organizations, Internal Revenue Service, in contempt of Congress for refusal to comply with a subpoena duly issued by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

This follows close on the heels of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which recently voted 21-12 to hold her in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify about the IRS Tea Party scandal. Next, Lerner’s fate will be referred to the U.S. Attorney. And while it is not clear that she will even be charged with a crime, she could be.

And if charged, she could be convicted, facing jail and a fine of up to $100,000. Many Republicans think Lois Lerner knows a lot and pushed hard for this result. Not long ago the House Ways and Means Committee voted 23-14 to send a criminal referral accusing her of “extreme bias” in scrutinizing conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.

Now capped by contempt of Congress, a 14-page letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Lerner “may have violated multiple criminal statutes.” It accuses her of using her position to improperly target conservative groups, impeding an investigation with misleading statements, and risking the disclosure of confidential taxpayer information. They are serious charges, much more so than contempt of Congress.

But when one adds up all the elements, if a panoply of charges were to be filed, they could be quite serious. A conviction could carry up to 11 years in prison. Lerner allegedly flagged the tax-exemption applications of conservative organizations such as Crossroads GPS and turned a blind eye to liberal groups like Priorities USA.

For the time being, though, the contempt citation means the controversy over Lerner’s testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will not go away. That much is clear. And taxpayers may feel that it’s strange they are paying her pension, when some taxpayers aren’t allowed to seek Fifth Amendment protection.

How is that? In a string of IRS cases, taxpayers could not take the Fifth. In sniffing out foreign bank accounts, the IRS and DOJ issue John Doe summonses, indict foreign nationals, and more. The law requiring FBARs gives the government a hook to subpoena a taxpayer suspected of having an undisclosed offshore account. You can take the Fifth Amendment and refuse to testify, but can you take the Fifth on bank records?

You might think so, since the “act of production” privilege is part of the Fifth Amendment guarantee. The government can’t compel you to produce incriminating documents. Clearly, bank records or FBARs could incriminate you.

Nevertheless, the FifthSeventhNinth, andEleventh Circuits say the Fifth Amendment provides no protection. The government victory in these cases hinges on Shapiro v. United States, holding that you can be forced to produce “essentially regulatory” records if the conduct was not “inherently criminal” and the records are not purely personal. You might think foreign bank records are such hot buttons that the Fifth applies.

You also might think your foreign bank records are purely personal too, especially today. Nope, the government can make you incriminate yourself. Lawyers petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for certiorari review, but the Court said no.

As a result, some people are being forced to produce bank records that may land them in jail. Conversely, a retired IRS official with government pension can take the Fifth about official duties that go to the heart of taxpayer perceptions of a fair tax system. Admittedly, these are quite distinct issues. Arguably they are entirely unrelated.

But taxpayers may still scratch their heads, especially as they are writing big checks to the IRS to pay their taxes.

You can reach me at Wood@WoodLLP.com. This discussion is not intended as legal advice, and cannot be relied upon for any purpose without the services of a qualified professional./>/>

 

 
Update
10

7 weeks ago

RM47mil KWSG contributions still unclaimed

Jun 9 2014 7:54am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: About RM47 million of contributions in the Teachers Provident Fund (KWSG) still remain unclaimed, the De ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
9

7 weeks ago

Gold shop lost almost RM1mil

Jun 9 2014 3:50am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KANGAR: A gold shop owner lost almost RM1 million after after the safe on in his shop was brok ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
8

7 weeks ago

Motion to debate MAS losses in Dewan Rakyat rejected

Jun 9 2014 3:39am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: AN emergency motion to debate the losses incurred by Malaysia Airlines last year, amounting to RM1.2 billion was rejected by the Dewan ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
7

7 weeks ago

MH370 Tragedy: Hisham: RM27.6 mil spent on 1st phase of SAR

Jun 9 2014 2:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia spent some RM27.6 million in its first phase of the search operations for missing Malaysia Airline flight MH370, said Acting Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammudd ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
6

7 weeks ago

9.1m litres of diesel seized in a month

Jun 8 2014 1:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives, and Consumerism ministry has seized some 9.1 million litres of diesel and property worth RM58 million since mounting ‘Operasi Diesel Selatan’ in t ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
5

7 weeks ago

Girl, 9, awarded RM2.78m compensation for medical negligence

Jun 6 2014 4:56am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: A nine-year-old girl who suffered brain damage during her birth at a government hospital was awarded over RM2.78 million in co ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
4

7 weeks ago

Malaysia's total trade in April up 12pc

Jun 5 2014 11:52pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's total trade in April 2014 rose by 12 per cent from a year ago to RM123.86 billion due to growing trading activities, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mu ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
3

7 weeks ago

Works Ministry to spend RM20m for upgrading works at 50 accident black spots

Jun 4 2014 11:35pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

JOHOR BARU: The Works Ministry will implement upgrading works at 50 accident prone locations in the country that have been identified this year involving an allocation of RM20 milli ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
2

7 weeks ago

Najib launches loan scheme for Ramadan traders

Jun 4 2014 10:24pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today launches RM45 million Ramadan Bazaar ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
1

8 weeks ago

Residents bring up objection against Kidex to Suhakam

Jun 4 2014 4:49am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: A group of 20 Petaling Jaya residents held a meeting with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) over their objection against the proposed RM2.2 billion Kinrara Damansara Skyway (Kidex) toda ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 

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