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United States v. Hanson

filed*fn*: May 14, 1993.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
LAVON T. HANSON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Montana. D.C. No. CR 91-43-BLG-JDS. Jack D. Shanstrom, District Judge, Presiding.

Before: William C. Canby, Jr., and Stephen Reinhardt, Circuit Judges, and A. Wallace Tashima, District Judge.*fn** Opinion by District Judge Tashima.

Author: Tashima

Opinion AND ORDER

Defendant-Appellant Lavon T. Hanson appeals his conviction for making false statements in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7206(1), and attempting to interfere with the administration of the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7212(a). As grounds for his appeal, Hanson argues that (1) the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction; (2) the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support the convictions; (3) the district court applied the wrong Sentencing Guideline; and (4) the district Judge was biased and prejudiced against him. The district court had jurisdiction under 18 U.S.C. § 3231. We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291. We affirm the conviction and reverse the sentence.

I.

The charges stem from Hanson's filing false IRS forms that reported payments Hanson had never made and claimed a tax refund Hanson was not due. Hanson filed, for the year 1989, forms 1096 and 1099 information returns stating that he had received $46,996,669.41 in non-employee compensation from three Farmers Home Administration ("FHA") employees. Since he had intended to report having paid that amount to the FHA employees rather than having received it, he later filed a corrected form 1096 stating that he had not received any payment. He subsequently filed a third set of 1096 and 1099 forms declaring that he had paid the three FHA officials $46,996,669.41. Hanson reported payments of $31,331,112.94 to two other FHA employees on forms 1096 and 1099 for 1990. None of the purported payments was ever made.

Hanson also filed a 1989 Form 1040 tax return falsely claiming a refund of $33,837,602 generated by income and withholdings of $46,996,669.44. He was neither paid nor owed the reported amounts.

Hanson was charged with four counts of making false statements and one count of attempting to interfere with the administration of the IRS. At trial, Hanson represented himself. The jury convicted him on all five counts. He was sentenced to 12 months in prison with one year of supervised release.

II.

Hanson challenges the district court's exercise of jurisdiction over him on the ground he is a nonresident alien exempt from the tax laws. We review a question of jurisdiction de novo. United States v. Endicott, 803 F.2d 506, 514 (9th Cir. 1986).

It is firmly established that district courts have subject matter jurisdiction over prosecutions for violations of the tax laws. "Under 18 U.S.C. § 3231, federal district courts have exclusive original jurisdiction over 'all offenses against the laws of the United States.' These offenses include crimes defined in Title 26 of United States Code." United States v. Studley, 783 F.2d 934 (9th Cir. 1986) (citation omitted).

Hanson claims that as a natural born citizen of Montana he is a nonresident alien and, thus, is not a "taxpayer" as defined in the tax code. Accordingly, he contends that he is not subject to the tax laws. In Studley, we rejected a similar argument as "utterly meritless," holding that "an individual is a 'person' under the Internal Revenue Code and thus subject to [Title 26]." Id. at 937 & n.3. Thus, Hanson is subject to the provisions of the tax code and the district court's exercise of jurisdiction was proper.

III.

Hanson contends the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions. In reviewing this claim, we consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the government to determine if any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the offense beyond a ...


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