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Wacky Defenses to Tax Evasion

For Charles J. O'Byrne, New York Gov. David Paterson's top aide, filing taxes was a taxing task. So much so, that year after year, O'Byrne failed to file, eventually running up a tax debt of $300,000 which he has since paid. According to the New York Times, O'Byrne's lawyer claims his tax evasion did not result from malice or even laziness: He was apparently afflicted with "late filing syndrome," a condition that made it difficult for him to fill out his tax returns in a timely manner.

From the article:

Late-filing syndrome, sometimes known as nonfiling syndrome or failure-to-file syndrome, is not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. A spokeswoman for the American Psychiatric Association said that the group does not recognize it as a psychiatric condition.

But legal experts said that it is not uncommon for tax evaders to claim they suffer from such a syndrome, because it can shield them from criminal penalties.

Meanwhile, Orange County, Calif.'s Harpreet Singh Brar came up with an even better defense to charges of failure to file tax returns on behalf of himself and his professional corporation: ineffective assistance of counsel. Sounds promising, except when you consider that Brar is an attorney who represented himself at trial. On appeal, he's argued that he did not knowingly waive his right to counsel, and that he may have been under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time of the waiver. Not surprisingly, the appeals court rejected Brar's argument. (Source: Metropolitan News-Enterprise.)

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on October 23, 2008 at 12:46 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)


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