The idea of proportionality in punishment


CRJU-4032-02F – Criminal Behavior



The idea of proportionality in punishment

M13 Discussion Activity Tax Punishments
Discussion Instructions

For this discussion, please answer the following question. It is a crime in the United States to not pay taxesa misdemeanor if you do not file a tax return and a felony if you purposely evade a tax, do not pay your taxes, or file a fraudulent tax return. A misdemeanor is generally punishable by imprisonment for a period of less than one year, and a felony is punishable by imprisonment for a period of more than a year in a federal or state prison. Thus, not paying taxes (or trying to evade tax) or filing a false tax return can lead to a punishment of imprisonment for more than a year.
If we think back to the idea of proportionality in punishment as argued by Cesare Beccaria, do you think a prison sentence is a proportional punishment for the crime of tax fraud? Consider the following examples when posting to this discussion.
1. A bartender receives $100 a night in tips each night he works. If he works 100 nights a year, his tip income is $10,000. Because tips are almost always cash, there is no record of this $10,000 income for the bartender. If he does not include this $10,000 in cash on his tax return, he is filing a false returnhe is trying to avoid paying taxes on that money (he is committing a felony).
Should this bartender be sent to prison for a more than a year for not reporting his tips?
2. In 2008, actor Wesley Snipes was convicted on three misdemeanor counts of failing to file taxes from 1999 to 2001. He appealed the conviction, but in July 2010 the conviction was upheld and he is now to serve his three year sentence (the maximum allowed) as well as pay $17 million in penalties and back taxes. Is this a proportional punishment for his crime?
In addition, to receive full credit for the discussion, you will also have to respond to at least one classmate’s post. Examples of possible responses:
o Ask classmate for clarification on the post

o Challenging a peer’s comment (support your reason)

o Do you agree or disagree with their opinion? Why agree/disagree?


The idea of proportionality in punishment



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