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Manafort Indictment Noticeably Lacks Tax Evasion Charge

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Manafort Indictment Noticeably Lacks Tax Evasion Charge

The indictment against Paul Manafort alleges that he took a number of affirmative steps to evade paying his fair share in taxes to the U.S. government, but does not charge him with tax evasion or any other charges under the Internal Revenue Code.

The indictment alleges Manafort:

  • “hid the existence of [his] foreign companies and bank accounts, falsely and repeatedly reporting to [his] tax preparers and to the United States that [he] had no foreign bank accounts.”
  • “used his hidden overseas wealth to enjoy a lavish lifestyle in the United States, without paying taxes on that income” [and]
  • “borrowed millions of dollars in loans using these properties as collateral, thereby obtaining cash in the United States without reporting and paying taxes on the income.” (emphasis added)

Despite allegations seemingly forming the cornerstones of a tax evasion case against Manafort, the indictment does not charge him with tax evasion. Why is that, you ask? It is likely because any charge brought under the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C.), including tax evasion, requires approval from the U.S. Department of Justice, Tax Division. Special Counsel Robert Mueller either purposely did not seek such approval, or less likely, the Tax Division declined to authorize such tax evasion charges. Either way, it’s an interesting omission, at least for a tax nerd lawyer like me.


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