360° Coverage : Lois Lerner Of IRS Is Held In Contempt, Next Prosecution?

2 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...

Filed under: news

 
 
 

16 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
2

16 hours ago

Khazanah throws MAS RM6b lifeline

Aug 29 2014 5:01pm CDT | Source: Business Times Singapore

August 30, 2014 1:15 AMKHAZANAH Nasional will inject RM6 billion (SS$2.4 billion) over three years to resuscitate loss-making Malaysia Airlines (MAS) under a recovery plan that includes even an Act of Parliament. Other key moves are migrating its operations, assets and liabilities to a new company (NewCo) and slashing the workforce of 20,000 by 30 ...
Source: Business Times Singapore   Full article at: Business Times Singapore
 

 
Update
1

1 day ago

MAS posts loss of RM307m for Q2

Aug 28 2014 5:00pm CDT | Source: Business Times Singapore

August 29, 2014 1:13 AMMALAYSIA Airlines (MAS) registered a loss of RM307 million (S$122 million) for the second quarter to end-June, but warned of worse to come in the second half when the "full financial impact of the double tragedies of MH370 a ...
Source: Business Times Singapore   Full article at: Business Times Singapore
 

 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Essar Capital sells telecom business in Kenya for $120 million
Nairobi, Aug 30 (IANS) Essar Capital Saturday announced the signing of binding agreements with Safaricom and Airtel for the sale of its telecom business in Kenya for $120 million.
 
 
Mysteries of space dust unlocked
New York, Aug 30 (IANS) A new analysis of space dust has revealed that the cosmic particles, wich are likely to have originated from beyond our solar system, are more complex in composition and structure than previously imagined.
 
 
Global road mapping to balance development and conservation
Washington, Aug 30 (IANS) Did you know that over 25 million km of new roads will be built worldwide by 2050, encircling the earth more than 600 times? Keeping the above fact in mind, a study has created a global map for prioritising road building across the planet to balance the competing demands of development and environmental protection.
 
 
India, Japan sign Kyoto-Varanasi partnership agreement
Kyoto, Aug 30 (IANS) India and Japan Saturday signed the Kyoto-Varanasi partnership agreement, an official said.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Essar Capital sells telecom business in Kenya for $120 million
Nairobi, Aug 30 (IANS) Essar Capital Saturday announced the signing of binding agreements with Safaricom and Airtel for the sale of its telecom business in Kenya for $120 million. The firm, through its portfolio...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Ukrainian cargo plane crashes in Algeria
Algiers, Aug 30 (IANS) A Ukrainian cargo plane crashed Saturday in Algeria's Tamenrasset province. According to rescue officials, the crash occurred at 1.40 p.m and no survivors were found, Xinhua reported. The...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Mysteries of space dust unlocked
New York, Aug 30 (IANS) A new analysis of space dust has revealed that the cosmic particles, wich are likely to have originated from beyond our solar system, are more complex in composition and structure than...
Read more on Apple Balla
 
Suri Cruise reunited with lost dog
Los Angeles, Aug 30 (IANS) Actors Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' daughter Suri has reportedly been reunited with her lost dog Honey. The eight-year-old was devastated when her new Chihuahua named Honey disappeared in...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Global road mapping to balance development and conservation
Washington, Aug 30 (IANS) Did you know that over 25 million km of new roads will be built worldwide by 2050, encircling the earth more than 600 times? Keeping the above fact in mind, a study has created a global map...
Read more on Apple Balla
 
Blind leaves Ajax for Man-U
The Hague, Aug 30 (IANS) Ajax and Manchester United have reached a deal for the transfer of Daley Blind to the latter, Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf and national broadcaster NOS reported Saturday. According to the...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Tough away games for Barca, Real Madrid
Madrid, Aug 30 (IANS) FC Barcelona and Real Madrid both face testing away trips as they play their second game of the Spanish Primera Liga season Sunday. Barcelona, fresh from a comfortable and moral boosting 3-0 win...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
India, Japan sign Kyoto-Varanasi partnership agreement
Kyoto, Aug 30 (IANS) India and Japan Saturday signed the Kyoto-Varanasi partnership agreement, an official said. The partnership, which focuses on how to preserve heritage while building smart cities, was signed...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Gremio bans fans over racist abuse
Rio de Janeiro, Aug 30 (IANS) Brazilian club Gremio have banned five fans from attending home matches after their involvement in the latest racism scandal to hit South American football. Santos goalkeeper Aranha was...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Pato attracts Galatasaray interest
Rio de Janeiro, Aug 30 (IANS) Former AC Milan striker Alexandre Pato could be headed to Galatasaray before Monday's European transfer deadline. But the Turkish club must meet the 24-year-old's 15 million euro release...
Read more on Sport Balla