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United States v. Latham – Case Brief Summary (Federal Court)

In United States v. Latham, 754 F.2d 747 (7th Cir. 1985), the defendant was convicted of willful failure to file income tax returns and for filing false W-4 statements.

One of the six issues raised on Latham's direct appeal from the judgments of conviction and sentence was that the district court erred by refusing to propound various jury instructions.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit rejected Latham's claim of error with respect to two theories that are similar to appellant's interpretation of the Internal Revenue Code; the court's comment is instructive:

The other jury instructions proffered by the defendant are equally inane. Thus we hold that the district court did not err in refusing the other instruction offered by Latham implying that 26 U.S.C. § 7343 defining "person" does not include natural persons. Similarly, Latham's instruction which indicated that under 26 U.S.C. § 3401(c) the category of "employee" does not include privately employed wage earners is a preposterous reading of the statute. It is obvious that within the context of both statutes the word "includes" is a term of enlargement not of limitation, and the reference to certain entities or categories is not intended to exclude all others. (United States v. Latham, 754 F.2d at 750.)

In a footnote, the Seventh Circuit court quoted with approval the following observation by the Fifth Circuit:

"The statute's provision was not intended to exclude individuals or to limit the ordinary meaning of the term 'person' so as to exclude individuals or 'natural persons' . . . from their responsibility to comply with the tax laws." Id., 754 F.2d at 750 n. 2.