SCOTUS Holds That Defendant Must Be Aware Of A Particular Investigation Or Audit To Be Convicted Under 26 U.S.C. § 7212(a)

Section 7212(a) of the Internal Revenue Code makes it a felony “corruptly or by force” to “endeavo[r] to obstruct or imped[e] the due administration of this title.” 26 U.S.C. § 7212(a). The question the Supreme Court faced was the “breadth of that statutory phrase.” Specifically, does the due administration of the Tax Code cover all routine administrative procedures, such as the ordinary processing of income tax returns? Or, does the phrase refer “to specific interference with targeted governmental tax-related proceedings, such as a particular investigation or audit[?]”

In a 7-2 decision in Marinello v. United States, No. 16-1144, the Supreme Court held to convict a defendant under § 7212(a), the federal government must prove the defendant was aware of a pending tax-related proceeding, such as a particular investigation or audit, or could reasonably foresee that such a proceeding would commence.