Wednesday, February 13, 2013

7th Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds Law – Says Tax Cheats Are Not Allowed to Sue the Bank That Enabled Them to be Tax Cheats

Just a Wonderful Judicial Opinion from Judge Richard Posner

[Thanks to Paul Caron’s TaxProfBlog for the referral.]

Mitt Romney famously railed against 47% of Americans whom he claimed were lazy bums living off the Federal government.  These of course were poor people. or the elderly or just plain retired folks.  But any examination of current events shows that it is rich people who really feel they are entitled.  Case in point, the wealthy men and women who attempted to avoid taxes by holding Swiss Bank accounts.

These people felt they were entitled to criminally avoid taxes. They held foreign bank accounts and did not report the income or the existence of the accounts, as required by law.  They are officially designated Tax Cheats by the courts.  And when they were caught they sued UBS who held their Swiss Bank Accounts.  This not because they were given bad advice, it is because they claim UBS didn’t prevent them from cheating on their taxes.  They were laughed out of District Court and now they have been laughed out of the Appellate Court.

The plaintiffs are tax cheats, and it is very odd, to say
the least, for tax cheats to seek to recover their penalties
(let alone interest, which might simply compensate the
IRS for the time value of money rightfully belonging to
it rather than to the taxpayers) from the source, in this
case UBS, of the income concealed from the IRS.

 One might have expected the plaintiffs to try to show that
they had forgotten they had accounts with UBS (though
that would be preposterous, for these were significant
investments for each of the plaintiffs). Or that UBS had
told them that income earned in those accounts was
somehow tax exempt and moreover that the accounts
themselves were somehow not foreign bank accounts
within the meaning of the tax code and so the plaintiffs
didn’t have to acknowledge having accounts with UBS.

They don’t make any of these feeble arguments. They do
argue, as we’ll see, that UBS was obligated to give
them accurate tax advice and failed to do so, but not
that it gave them inaccurate, as distinct from no, advice.

The conclusion of the court here,

This is like suing one’s parents to recover tax
penalties one has paid, on the ground that the parents
had failed to bring one up to be an honest person who
would not evade taxes and so would not subject himself
to penalties.

And there is this final note.

We needn’t discuss the plaintiffs’ remaining claimsof
negligence and malpracticeas they are frivolous
squared. This lawsuit, including the appeal, is a travesty.
We are surprised that UBS hasn’t asked for the imposition
of sanctions on the plaintiffs and class counsel.

So Mr. Romney, if you are looking for the real 47% here are some.  And we don’t think you have to look very far, as most if not all of the tax cheats here are probably contributors to your campaign.

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