Time to Revisit the 'Klein' Conspiracy Doctrine

January 25, 2013  |  New York Law Journal

Since the Second Circuit's 1957 decision in United States v Klein, defendants in criminal tax cases have commonly been charged with having conspired to "impede, impair, defeat and obstruct" the Internal Revenue Service in the "ascertainment, evaluation, assessment and collection" of income taxes. While commentators have questioned the statutory authority for the so-called Klein conspiracy, challenges to the charge have rarely gained traction. In late November 2012, however, the Second Circuit decided United States v Coplan in which it recognized "infirmities in the history and deployment" of the conspiracy statute to efforts to impede or obstruct the IRS. This article discusses the Coplan decision, the continuing validity of the Klein doctrine, and the possibility that the Supreme Court will address the issue.

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