Friday, October 23, 2009

Faculty Publication on the Federal Sentencing Guidelines & Tax Crimes

Scott A. Schumacher, Tomko and Sentencing Guidelines After Booker, 125 Tax Notes 149 (2009).

The federal sentencing guidelines attempt to prevent disparities among sentences imposed for the same crime and apply to tax crimes just as they apply to other federal crimes. Professor Schumacher’s recent article discusses several U.S. Supreme Court and Court of Appeals decisions dealing with interpretation of the guidelines and how the lower courts have attempted to apply those interpretations to specific cases.

The recent flurry of sentencing appeals started after the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005). The Court held that the sentencing guidelines were only advisory. For tax cases, this meant that the former rather rote sentencing, which, under the guidelines, had been based primarily on the amount of tax loss or tax evaded, was opened up to the other considerations outlined in Booker.

Schumacher describes the Third Circuit’s decision in United States v. Tomko, 562 F.3d 558 (3d Cir. 2009), as a struggle “to apply the principles set out by the Supreme Court in determining whether the sentencing judge abused his discretion in imposing a sentence with no term of imprisonment in a tax evasion case.” Had the sentencing guidelines been followed, Tomko’s tax deficiency of $228,557 would have resulted in prison time of 12-18 months. Check out this article to find what the court decided, why, and what this decision might mean for prosecutors and defense lawyers alike.

If you want an even more detailed discussion about how the guidelines impact the tax arena, check out this book co-authored by Professor Schumacher: John A. Townsend et al., Tax Crimes 301-08 (2008). KF6334 .T39 2008 at Classified Stacks

For a copy of the present guidelines, policy statements, and official commentary, all of which are contained in the United States Sentencing Commission Guidelines Manual, visit the United States Sentencing Commission website. That website also links to the proposed amendments the Commission has sent to Congress. You can find the current Manual as well as prior editions in the Gallagher Law Library. KF9685.A15 U55 at Classified Stacks

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