Clarence Thomas

Supreme Court limits reach of tax crime statute

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday to make it harder for the federal government to use a section of tax law to convict someone of obstruction.

The government had interpreted a section of the tax code to give it a broad ability to charge someone with obstructing or impeding the work of the Internal Revenue Service. It argued that someone could violate the statute by doing something intended to obstruct the IRS' work, like shredding records, even if the person wasn't under investigation at the time or was under investigation but didn't know it.

But the Supreme Court ruled 7 to 2 to limit the application of the statue. The justices said that to convict someone, the...