Generally, the 6-year statute of limitations prescribed by 26 U.S.C. § 6531(2) for tax evasion offenses under 26 U.S.C. § 7201 runs in cases involving a filed, but false, return -- one that underreports income -- from the date the return was filed with the IRS. But the tax evasion statute comprises two types of evasion offenses: evasion of the determination of the correct tax due and evasion of the payment of taxes. In the former case, which goes to the IRS's assessment function, the filing date of the false return triggers the statute of limitations.
But what of an evasion of payment case, where the allegations
focus on steps taken by a taxpayer to evade paying the IRS that
which is acknowledged to be owed, and which implicates the
IRS's collection activity? Recently, in United States v.
Irby, 703 F.3d 280 (5th Cir. 2012), the Fifth Circuit joined
every other court of appeal in holding that in such cases the
statute of limitations runs from the later of two event: either the
return's filing date or the date of the last act of evasion.
Well after Irby filed the subject return, he was alleged to have
used nominee accounts to hide assets from the IRS. The court held
that the later use of the nominee accounts delayed the start of the
6-year limitations period, and made his prosecution timely.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.