U.S. Supreme Court

Case Status


Docket Number


2017 Term

Oral Argument Date

December 06, 2017


Questions Presented

Section 7212(a) of the Internal Revenue Code includes the following provision:

Whoever corruptly or by force … endeavors to intimidate or impede any officer … of the United States acting in an official capacity under this title, or in any other way corruptly or by force … endeavors to obstruct or impede[] the due administration of this title, shall, upon conviction thereof, be fined not more than $5,000, or imprisoned not more than 3 years, or both . . . .

26 U.S.C. § 7212(a) (emphasis added).

The question presented is whether § 7212(a)’s residual clause, italicized above, requires that there was a pending IRS action or proceeding, such as an investigation or audit, of which the defendant was aware when he engaged in the purportedly obstructive conduct.

Case Updates

Supreme Court issues favorable decision narrowing the scope of the criminal obstruction provision in tax code

March 21, 2018

The Supreme Court reversed the Second Circuit’s decision and held that to convict a defendant under § 7212(a)’s residual clause, the government must prove that the defendant was aware of a pending tax-related proceeding, such as a particular investigation or audit, or could reasonably foresee that such a proceeding would commence. The Court’s decision narrows the range of activity that could be subject to criminal prosecution and should reduce the risk of selective, discriminatory enforcement.

U.S. Chamber addresses criminal obstruction provision in tax code

September 08, 2017

The U.S. Chamber and National Federation of Independent Business filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to reverse the judgment below, and hold that the Omnibus Clause requires that a defendant have been aware of a specific IRS process and acted with the intent to obstruct or impede it.

Lewis J. Liman, Diana L. Wollman, Nowell D. Bamberger, Jonathan Gifford, and Erica Klipper of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP served as co-counsel for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the U.S. Chamber Litigation Center.

Case Documents