A business owner will have to serve his sentence after the Indiana Court of Appeals rejected his argument that his criminal convictions and financial penalties imposed for failing to pay taxes violated double jeopardy principles.
Tuan Chu did not pay state and local income taxes or remit the sales tax he collected for the glass repair business he operated.
First, a judgment was entered against Chu in the amount of $280,326.62. Then he was convicted of three counts of Class D felony evasion of income tax, three counts of Class D felony theft, and one count of Class D felony failure to remit or collect sales tax.
Chu appealed his convictions, arguing that the nonpayment penalties and his criminal convictions violate double jeopardy because he was improperly being punished twice for he same conduct.
In Tuan Chu v. State of Indiana, 49A04-1210-CR-495, the COA affirmed Chu’s convictions, concluding that Chu did not show that the assessment of nonpayment penalties and the criminal convictions violate United States or Indiana double jeopardy principles.
Chu cited Bryant v. State, 660 N.E.2d 290 (Ind. 1995), to support his assertion that the tax penalty was a punishment. However, the Court of Appeals pointed out that Bryant relied heavily on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Halper, 490 U.S. 435, 109 S. Ct. 1892 (1989), which has since been nullified by Hudson v. United States, 522 U.S. 93, 118 S. Ct. 488 (1997).
Even if Bryant was still good law, the court stated it was not convinced the nonpayment penalties assessed to Chu are punishments. And, it disagreed with Chu’s assertion that not only was the imposition of the nonpayment penalties dependent of the state’s decision to prosecute him for failure to pay taxes but also that the Indiana Department of Revenue’s use of jeopardy assessments was punitive.
“Chu, however, does not explain what socially undesirable activity the Department was seeking to eliminate when it issued the jeopardy assessments against him, nor does he assert that the jeopardy assessments were issued in the absence of the necessary statutory requirements,” Judge Michael Barnes wrote for the court. “Without more, we are not convinced that the issuance of jeopardy assessments rendered the nonpayment penalties punitive.”