William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal


Leah A. Kahl


This Note argues that creating a tax-crime exception to the privilege against self-incrimination countervenes both the language and the spirit of the Fifth Amendment. This Note further argues that the Ninth Circuit's creation of a tax crime-exception stemmed from a misinterpretation of precedent.

This Note describes the tax system and structure of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), including its investigatory powers. The relationship between the IRS and the Department of Justice is discussed to ascertain the incriminatory effects of taxpayers' disclosures. A Ninth Circuit district court case, United States v. Troescher, is used as a framework for analyzing the Ninth Circuit's distinction between tax and nontax crimes. The development of the nontax-crime exception by the Ninth Circuit is also discussed. Additionally, this Note examines the history of the privilege against self-incrimination and the different tests employed by the Supreme Court to determine its applicability. This Note concludes by arguing that the current approach of the Ninth Circuit is inconsistent with the underlying purposes of the Fifth Amendment

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