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Recently, in the Baxter case, a federal district court vacated the sentence imposed as a result of a guilty plea in a criminal tax case. The court held that the failure of defense counsel to retain the services of an expert in tax crimes sentencing violated the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to effective representation.
This installment of the Tax Crimes column explores Baxter. Part A briefly notes the civil and criminal tax contexts in which tax experts are used. Part B describes Baxter and its holding. Part C asks whether defense counsel in criminal tax cases should always retain a tax expert. The Baxter court answered this question in the negative. This answer surely is correct. However, Baxter was not a remarkably complicated case as far as criminal tax prosecutions go. If retaining an expert was constitutionally required in Baxter, doing so may be required in more cases than some attorneys may previously have realized.
© 2009 Steve R. Johnson
Steve R. Johnson,
The Sixth Amendment and Expert Witnesses in Criminal Tax Cases, 124
Available at: http://ir.law.fsu.edu/articles/284