Willful blindness, also known as deliberate ignorance or conscious avoidance. This is a legal policy that makes a felony prosecution on a tax dispute by attributing information or awareness onto an offender. Thus, any offender in a tax felony situation can be very hard to catch. Because it can be tough for the authorities to claim that there was a real intent or knowledge to commit tax fraud. In this article, we will discuss the relationship between willful blindness and tax crimes.
What Is Willful Blindness?
The law defines willful blindness as a condition in which an individual consciously pursues to evade illegal or civil obligation for an unlawful act. By deliberately keeping themselves oblivious of facts that would render them involved or accountable. However, the motive behind deliberate ignorance is that if the offender is constrained in a felony case. And, they can take the stance that they did not have the essential awareness or intent.
Instances of Willful Blindness In Relation to Tax
Inadvertent, negligent, or reckless acts do not count as a felony tax charge. There are, however, instances where the indicting lawyer may try to charge an individual with willful blindness in order to charge the defendant. For instance, this may happen in case the offender fails to:
- Refrains from examining a tax return despite suspicion of falsely inflated losses
- Review and report the total profits from offshore accounts
- Ask about possibly deceitful filings for dread of validation
Willful Blindness Jury Instruction In Relation to Tax Crime
In order for the panel to deliberate willful blindness as a way of attributing facts to the perpetrator. The court will submit instructions to the panel. The objective of the instruction is preset by the intentional evasion policy of the court. If discovered that the offender was willfully blind, the panel will have to regulate without uncertainty that the perpetrator’s actions were conscious of evading specific details. Either of their own assets or of the law. Hence, the panel will then consider the following elements:
- Whether the perpetrator acted decisively to avoid noticing said facts
- Whether the perpetrator supposed that there were facts pertinent to their tax obligation that they had not learned
Different courts may differ on which direction they should stand by on the appropriate presentation of willful blindness panel instruction. Some permit the administration to use the willful blindness instruction to determine willfulness, while others only permit the willful blindness instruction where the proof could determine the offender’s actual knowledge absolutely.
The method of appealing this decision can be very tough. Especially, where they give the willful blindness panel instruction, and they find the offender guilty. Thus, making it crucial to recruit the help of an experienced and competent tax lawyer. As it will ensure proper representation for you at every step of the case.
Aside from felony charges, a willful punishment is the greatest of 50% of every non-disclosed account. Or $100,000 each year for as long as the statute of limitations is open. This implies that the statute permits the IRS to charge an offender up to 300% of the amount of an account in damage of revelation requirements. In some cases, they limit the amount of the penalty for all years to 50% of the maximum collective balance of unpaid foreign accounts at the time of the years of examination.
Defenses to Willful Blindness in Tax Crimes
An offender can choose to use the cheek defense in front of the Supreme Court. When faced with felony charges under the tax law. Generally, in cheek defense, tax crimes require that the offender has willfully committed the crime. Thus, the cheek defense is applicable when the offender is charged with a felony under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). An offender using a cheek defense must prove their own belief that their actions were in agreement with the IRC. The conditions in which willful blindness panel instruction is presented determine the availability of the cheek defense.
Collective Knowledge and Willful Blindness
Sometimes they also use a willful blindness policy to represent a corporation. This is according to the collective information of various parties of the company. The company could be unlawfully obligated if they discover organizational structure intentionally forced to complicate details about tax obligations.
Willful Blindness/Conscious Avoidance
Many courts have conclusively decided that in case any proof is found that the offender intentionally evaded the law or a fact, the panel will conclude that the offender knew of that law or fact. And was only trying to avoid experiencing the penalties. In this case, the usage of an intentional avoidance instruction may be applicable.
The authority may prove that the offender was aware of a particular law or fact. Or that the offender knew that the fact or law existed but intentionally decided to avoid it.
Even if the offender avoids the actual fact, knowledge, or detail. The law can determine the required information if the defendant is consciously aware of the fact, knowledge, or detail in question. Unless they believe that it does not exist. Yet, they do not require the authority to submit any proof of intentional avoidance to defend a willful blindness instruction.
The concept behind willful blindness is that actual knowledge and intentional ignorance are equally blameworthy in the face of the law.
Final Thoughts on Willful Blindness
It is essential for the offenders in tax law to take note. Because intentional ignorance is not a cover to actual information. In simple terms, if an offender purposefully tries to avoid certain information that would subsequently prove that their actions are criminal, the willful blindness clause applies. Thus, the intention to avoid this information is not sufficient to defend against a felony.