Internal Revenue Code section 7212(a) creates two separate offenses: (A) Corrupt or forcible interference, and (B) corrupt endeavors to impede.
The relevant statute provides as follows:
I.R.C. § 7212 – ATTEMPTS TO INTERFERE WITH ADMINISTRATION OF INTERNAL REVENUE LAWS
(a) Corrupt or Forcible Interference.–Whoever corruptly or by force or threats of force (including any threatening letter or communication) endeavors to intimidate or impede any officer or employee of the United States acting in an official capacity under this title, or in any other way corruptly or by force or threats of force (including any threatening letter or communication) obstructs or impedes, or endeavors to obstruct or impede, the due administration of this title, shall, upon conviction thereof, be fined* not more than $5,000, or imprisoned not more than 3 years, or both, except that if the offense is committed only by threats of force, the person convicted thereof shall be fined not more than $3,000, or imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both. The term “threats of force,” as used in this subsection, means threats of bodily harm to the officer or employee of the United States or to a member of his family.
Corrupt or Forcible Interference – Offense No. 1
In order to establish a violation of section 7212 for corrupt or forcible interference, the government must establish the following three elements:
- Use of force or threats of force;
- To intimidate, impede or obstruct; and
- Officer/employee of U.S. acting in official capacity under Title 26.
Charges under this prong typically involve attempts to disrupt, intimidate or impede IRS employees. This may include taking such actions while an IRS agent is performing an investigation, an examination, or collection activities.
Corrupt Endeavors to Impede – The “Omnibus Clause” – Offense No. 2
In order to establish a violation of section 7212 for corrupt endeavors to impede, the government must establish the following three elements:
- A corrupt effort, endeavor or attempt;
- To impede, obstruct or interfere with; and
- Due administration of Title 26.
When is an act corrupt for purposes of section 7212? Courts have held that an act is corrupt for such purposes where it is performed with the intention to secure an unlawful benefit. Thus, evidence of a mere improper motive or bad or evil purpose is not sufficient. However, the unlawful benefit need not be specifically for the defendant. That is, it may be sufficient if there is an intent to secure an unlawful benefit for oneself or for another.
Notably, courts have held that willfulness is not a necessary element of section 7212.
Impede, Obstruct, or Interfere with Due Administration of Title 26
It has been held that an act impedes, obstructs, or interferes with the due administration of Title 26 if the IRS is required to expend a large amount of time discovering and remedying the problems caused by the actions at issue.
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