Justice Department vows crackdown on tax 'defiers'


The high-profile prosecution of actor Wasley Snipes a few months before tax season was pretty clearly an effort to scare people into paying their taxes. It might have backfired given that Snipes got off pretty light, but the IRS and the Justice Department say they aren't backing down in their fight against tax cheats.

In a press release, Nathan J. Hochman, the Justice Department's Tax Division Assistant Attorney General, announced the "creation of a national tax defier initiative," According to the press release:

This initiative is aimed at stopping those tax defiers who do not meet their federal tax obligations and seek to transfer those obligations to their neighbor's back. The tax defier is not someone who has a legitimate or factual dispute about the amount of tax due ... The tax defier is someone who rejects the legal foundation of the tax system, despite decades of legal precedent upholding the system's constitutional and statutory validity, and who takes specific and concrete action to violate the law. It is this tax defier conduct, which results in fraudulent claims, frivolous returns and bogus schemes, that threatens the foundation of our tax system and must be vigorously countered.

You can read the press release for details on what exactly they plan to do. It contains lots of phrases like "strengthen and expand coordination," "Leverage expertise and resources," and "maximize our use of technology." When I hear government officials using language like that, I tend not to have a lot of confidence in their ability to get things done. But that's just me.

To learn about some of the frivolous arguments that cheats make to shirk taxes, check out this series from Tracy Coenen.