Things can get tough when government agencies gang up on people. For example, the Tax Court last week ruled in favor of the Internal Revenue Service in a case brought by a New York City man who was challenging IRS' contention he owed a total of $353,000 in back taxes and penalties for 1971. That was based on the calculation by the IRS that the taxpayer had underreported his income by $400,000 that year, exactly what one would earn for arranging the delivery of 200 kilograms of heroin for $2,000 a pop, as it were.
The man, identified in the court decision as Francisco Solimene, had filed a tax return for 1971 on which he said the total family income of between $10,000 and $12,000 was earned by his wife. The unreported income estimate came from information developed during a Bureau of Customs probe in which Solimene was alleged to have received $400,000 for arranging the delivery of heroin during three months in 1971. Solimene was ultimately convicted by a jury on one count of conspiracy to import 155 pounds of heroin into this country.
The Tax Court found the $400,000 estimate reasonable and was obviously led in that direction by the facts that Solimene had deposited $105,000 in a Swiss bank account in 1971, that there was $87,000 in cash in a safe deposit box belonging to his wife and that, when arrested, he had $5,000 on his person. The burden in these matters is on the individual challenging the IRS, and Solimene's tax defense consisted, the court said, of testimony to the effect that he had no reportable income, was not in the drug business and was living solely on his wife's earnings.