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February 2015 Archives

DISTRIBUTION OF MARITAL ESTATE DIFFICULT TO OVERTURN ON APPEAL

In the case of Dunn v. Dunn (No. E2014-00706-COA-R3-C.V, Tenn. Ct. App. DEC 22, 2014), Husband and Wife divorced after thirty-eight years of marriage. Following several trial dates, the trial court issued a memorandum opinion, placing value on the marital estate and splitting the estate at 60% for the wife and 40% for the husband. Trial court also charged $200,000 against the husband's share of the estate based on dissipated assets. 

Chattanooga, Tennessee Pain Clinic Owner Convicted of Drug Trafficking And Financial Crimes

According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office, Chattanooga, Tennessee resident Barbara Lang was convicted in December, 2014, for participating in a conspiracy to illegally distribute controlled substances. Ms. Lang owned and operated two pain clinics where Xanax and oxycodone were illegally distributed. This crime is sometimes referred to as "drug diversion." She was also convicted of 5 counts of maintaining a drug-involved business and 14 counts of illegally structuring bank transactions to avoid reporting requirements, which is known as "tax structuring." Three others are facing charges on this matter, along with Lang. Included in these three is her daughter, Faith Blake, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances through the two pain clinics that she operated with her mother. She also pleaded guilty to obstructing the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Additionally, she is charged with failure to appear at a federal court proceeding. Dr. Jerome Sherard, medical director for one of the clinics, and Charles Larmore, a nurse practitioner, pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute controlled substances at one of Ms. Lang's clinics as well as another clinic operated by Sherard. 

Overview of Statute of Limitations in Tax Prosecutions for Failure to Collect or Pay Tax

A statute of limitations period may prevent the Government from bringing or succeeding in a claim against a person accused of committing tax crimes. 26 U.S.C. § 7202 (Willful failure to collect or pay over tax) addresses two offenses. 1.) A willful failure to collect tax, and 2.) A willful failure to truthfully account for and/or pay over tax. It was designed primarily to assure compliance by third- parties obligated to collect taxes. In § 7202 prosecutions, the statute of limitations is six years. Arguments have been made over the years that the statute should be three years due to the language of, "Failure to pay over third- party taxes was substantively different from a failure to pay taxes." (See U.S. v. Brennick, 1995; and U.S. v. Block, 1980).  However, most courts conclude that the terms "pay" and "pay over" are used interchangeably by the Supreme Court and thus the term "pay" rather than "pay over" will not affect the result of the judgment. Despite the disagreement among courts, the failure to pay third-party taxes as covered by § 7202 constitutes failure to pay "any tax," and thus subject to the six year statute of limitations.

HUSBAND'S MERITLESS CLAIM OF DURESS LEADS TO AWARD OF WIFE'S FEES ON APPEAL

In the case of Trigg v Trigg, (No. E2014-00860-COA-R3-CV. Jan 5, 2015), the court finds that Husband was not under duress in signing a contract due to the fact that Wife used dismissal of Order of Protection violations as leverage. Further, the Court of Appeals found Husband's appeal frivolous and awarded Wife fees expended in the appeal. 

MENTAL INSTABILITY OUTWEIGHS VIOLATION OF COURT ORDER IN PARENTING DETERMINATION

In the case of Hughes v. Hughes, No. M2013-01558-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App., Dec. 16, 2014), the Court of Appeals had to decide on co-parenting in a case involving mental instability by one parent and violation of a court order by the other.

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