2 Oct 2022


Spies v. United States: The Supreme Court's Landmark Ruling on Espionage

Format: Other

Academic level: Master’s

Paper type: Case Study

Words: 277

Pages: 1

Downloads: 0

This is a case which dealt with the issue of income tax evasion. The case determined that for income tax evasion to be found to have transpired, one must willfully disregard their duty to pay tax and engage in ways to avert the execution of those duties. This paper provides a case brief of this case.


The petitioner in this case was convicted of trying to evade income tax in violation of section 145 (b) in the Revenue Act (1936). This now reflects the statute in section 145 (b) of the Internal Revenue Code. At the trial stage, the defendant had admitted to having an income sufficient to cause him to file a return and pay the necessary taxes, both of which he failed to do. The government gathered evidence to the fact that the defendant had accumulated sufficient income to file and pay his tax obligations, which the defendant failed to do. The defendant argued that during the time he was obliged to file his returns and meet his tax obligations, the defendant was ill amounting to his inability to file. It was construed as something more than worry, but less than insanity. Section 145 (b) classified the evasion of tax as a felony, under which the defendant was convicted 1 .

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Decision and Rationale 

In this case, it was found that the petitioner was indeed willful in his evasion of the said tax obligation as he obtained the income and knowingly put it in the name of other members as well as engaged other misleading practices to evade the tax. The standard of willing evasion was thus met through the petitioner’s conduct prior to the period of the filing. Spies was guilty of the offence of tax evasion.


Legal Information Institute, Spies V United States (317 US 491, 1943), 278 

1 Legal Information Institute, Spies V United States (317 US 491, 1943), 278

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 17). Spies v. United States: The Supreme Court's Landmark Ruling on Espionage.


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