Hudson v. Super. Ct.Annotate this Case
In a felony complaint, the prosecution charged Blake Hudson with three counts of willfully failing to timely file tax returns for three consecutive years with the intent to evade paying a tax. A magistrate presided over a preliminary hearing in which an Franchise Tax Board (FTB) agent testified as the prosecution’s sole witness. The agent testified that generally a person must file tax returns by either April 15, or October 15, for the prior taxable year. Generally, a crime occurs when a person commits a wrongful act with the requisite criminal intent. In California, it is a crime when a person willfully fails to timely file a state tax return with the intent to evade paying the taxes that are owed. Hudson had filed returns in other years and the FTB had repeatedly notified Hudson of his duty to file his tax returns. As a result, the magistrate bound Hudson over for trial; and the superior denied his motion to set aside the information. Hudson argues that there was insufficient evidence to show his intent to evade paying taxes. Hudson argued that in order to prove his intent, the prosecution needed to show an additional affirmative act of fraud. The Court of Appeal found that Hudson’s argument was based on a United States Supreme Court opinion interpreting a federal tax law. But unlike the California state statute, the federal tax law at issue did not explicitly make the failure to timely file a tax return a criminal act. "That distinction is ultimately fatal to Hudson’s claim." The Court concluded there was a rational basis for the magistrate to assume that Hudson harbored the requisite intent to evade paying his taxes when he failed to timely file his tax returns.