Last December, the 5th Circuit decided in United States v. Irby how the statute of limitations should run in tax evasion cases. The defendant was convicted of one count of tax evasion, four counts of willful failure to file a tax return and one count of obstruction of the IRS. The defendant was sentenced to a total of nine years in prison. The defendant raised several objections to his conviction and sentence, including vindictiveness, sufficiency of the evidence, constitutional challenges to the biases of the judge and jury. The Court found every one of these objections without merit. The one claim that the defendant raised that the court considered was a challenge based on the statute of limitations.
The defendant appealed his conviction, arguing that the statute of limitations barred one of his convictions. The defendant argued that the period began to run on the date that the tax return was due, while the District Court ruled that the statute of limitations period began with the last affirmative act of tax evasion. The 5th Circuit agreed with the district court and found that the statute of limitations was within six years of the defendant’s last affirmative act to willfully avoid paying taxes. This is similar to the decisions of other circuits that have ruled that the statute of limitations period begins to run on the later of either the date the tax return was due or the last affirmative act.