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Name: People v. Mojica
Case #: B176369
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 8
Opinion Date: 05/25/2006

Tax evasion requires proof that taxes are owed. Mojica owned a small market, and did not file state income tax returns for 1996 and 1997. Mojica claimed he did not file returns because he had no profits. He claimed that he took food stamps from his brother, also a grocer, and paid him with checks. His accounting expert testified that the transactions were non-taxable exchanges for capital. The jury was not instructed that it had to find that a tax deficiency existed. Appellant was convicted of felony tax evasion in violation of Revenue and Taxation Code section 19706. The appellate court reversed. Section 19706 has long been interpreted as requiring proof that a defendant actually owed taxes. Since the jury was not told that they had to find this element of the offense before it could convict, reversal was required.