Are you obstructing justice when you pay your lawnmower in cash knowing that he will not report that cash payment to the IRS? Stated another way, is a “cash only” business structure obstruction of justice?
(Or, the legal issue: Does a conviction under 26 U.S.C. 7212(a) for corruptly endeavoring to obstruct or impede the due administration of the tax laws require that the government prove the defendant acted with knowledge of a pending Internal Revenue Service action?)1
Carlo J. Marinello II owned and ran a freight transport company. Between 1992 and 2010, he didn’t keep any records of his company and definitely did not file any taxes, personal or corporate. He dealt mostly in cash, and any records he did have, he destroyed as a matter of course.
He was charged with 26 U.S.C. § 7212(a), which makes it a crime to: “corruptly ... obstructs or impedes, or endeavors to obstruct or impede, the due administration of this title [the internal revenue code]”
This isn’t a challenge to the constitutionality of this statute, but instead, the Defendant is saying that it’s so broad as the statute is written, as a statutory matter, the Congress must have intended the statute to be limited to those defendants that have knowledge of a pending IRS investigation. The Second Circuit disagreed and affirmed in favor of the Government.