Andy Howlett Quoted on Impact of Supreme Court's Refusal to Review Tax Case in Bloomberg Law
"Supreme Court Punt in Tax Fine Case Leaves Uncertainty in Wake"
Andy Howlett discussed the possible impacts of the U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to review a tax case on whether constitutional protections against excessive fines extend to civil tax penalties, leaving in place an appellate court decision Justice Neil Gorsuch said to be difficult to square with the original understanding of the Eighth Amendment. Howlett said the lower court ruling embraced a more attenuated linkage between a remedial penalty and the actual harm done to the government. "It's still the case that a penalty under Supreme Court precedent must be punitive and a deterrent in nature in order to invoke the excessive fines limitation," Howlett noted. "Even if the government is incentivized to penalize the maximum amount possible, they cannot do so, unless the penalties has some plausible nexus to the harms suffered." Howlett stated that he expects to see future Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) cases making similar arguments about excessive fines.