Black Robes Speak!: February 2012
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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

U. S. Suupreme Court Holds Filing "Fraudulent And Deceitful" Income Tax Returns In Which Government Loses $10,000 Was A Deportable Offense.

Supreme Court clarifies 'aggravated felony' for immigrant removal purposes

The US Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in Kawashima v. Holderthat, under the Immigration and Nationality Act [8 USC § 1101 et seq.], the making of false tax returns is a crime involving fraud or deceit, which can result in deportation, when the government suffers a loss of more than $10,000.

The case involves Petitioners Akio and Fusako Kawashima, natives and citizens of Japan, who were living in California as lawful permanent residents. They were charged with, and pleaded guilty to, filing, and aiding and abetting in filing, a false statement on a corporate tax return. An immigration judge ordered their deportation, after determining the convictions were "aggravated felonies" within the meaning of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed the decision, which was ultimately upheld by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In an opinion authored by Justice Clarence Thomas, the Supreme Court affirmed:

The language of the statute is clear. Anyone who is convicted of an offense that "involves fraud or deceit in which the loss to the victim or victims exceeds $10,000" has committed an aggravated felony and is subject to deportation pursuant to 8 USC § 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii). The elements of willfully making and subscribing a false corporate tax return, in violation of 26 USC § 7206(1), and of aiding and assisting in the preparation of a false tax return, in violation of 26 USC § 7206(2), establish that those crimes are deportable offenses because they necessarily entail deceit.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg authored a dissenting opinion, in which she was joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan. The court's ruling resolved a split among the circuits regarding whether filing a false tax return was an aggravated felony under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

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