Well-known criminal defense attorney F. Lee Bailey recently represented himself in a case before the Tax Court.

The court concluded, in a 143-page opinion (F. Lee Bailey v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo 2012-96, April 2, 2012), that Bailey:

  1. Failed to report all of his income
  2. Wrongly reported as income some payments he did not receive
  3. Claimed some deductions he could not substantiate
  4. Failed to claim deductions to which he was entitled

To add insult to injury, the court also assessed a negligence penalty. The court observed that Bailey "failed to keep records and thereby made the examination of his return a forensic and almost archeological challenge."

The court went on to state:

If Mr. Bailey had disclosed to a tax professional the facts underlying the adjustments we have sustained, and if the professional had advised him to report the items as he did, then he might have a colorable claim of reasonable cause based on reliance on advice. However, Mr. Bailey offered no evidence of such informed advice, nor of any other claim of reasonable cause and good faith.

There is an old adage that says a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client. The same can be said about a criminal attorney who acts as his own tax adviser.

“No, no, I'd rather not. I have an agreement with the houseflies. The flies don"t practice law, and I don’t walk on the ceiling.” - Groucho Marx (At the Circus)

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