Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, 1991, p. 1599:
Proceeding form a conscious motion of the will; voluntary; knowingly
deliberate. Intending the result which actually comes to pass;
designed; intentional; purposeful; not accidental or involuntary.
done with evil intent, or with a bad motive or purpose, or with indifference
to the natural consequence; unlawful; without legal justification.
An act or omission is "willfully"
done, if done voluntarily and intentionally and with the specific intent
to do something the law forbids, or with the specific intent to fail
to do something the law requires to be done; that is to say, with bad
purpose either to disobey or to disregard the law. It is a word
of many meanings, with its construction often influenced to its context.
Screws v. United States, 325 U.S. 91, 101, 65 S.Ct. 1031, 1035, 89 L.Ed.
A willful act may be described
as one done intentionally, knowingly, and purposely, without justifiable
excuse, as distinguished form an act done carelessly, thoughtlessly,
heedlessly, or inadvertently. A willful act differs essentially
from a negligent act. The one is positive and the other negative.
[Black's Law Dictionary,
Sixth Edition, 1991, p. 1599]
Tax Procedure and Tax Fraud, Patricia Morgan, West Publishing,
pp. 310-312, ISBN 0-314-06586-5, 1999:
The Supreme Court's first attempt to define willfulness came in
its 1933 decision of Murdock, supra. The Court first observed
that the term "denotes an act which is intentional, or knowing, or voluntary,
as distinguished from accidental." In language that would bedevil
the courts for years thereafter, the Murdock Court further stated
that "willfully" usually means "an act done with a bad purpose; without
justifiable excuse; stubbornly, obstinately, perversely * * * or with
bad faith or evil intent." Ten years later, the Court in Spies
v. United States (S.Ct.1943) stated that the term willfulness connotes
"evil motive and want of justification." Thirty years after Spies , in 1973, the Supreme Court was still referring to the willfulness
requirement in terms of bad purpose or evil motive. IN United
States v. Bishop (S.Ct.1973), the Court stated that it "shall continue
to require, in both tax felonies and tax misdemeanors that must be done
'willfully,' the bad purpose or evil motive described in Murdock."
in 1976, the Supreme Court ended the confusion caused by these early
continuing references to bad purpose and evil motive. Simply put,
the issue was whether proof of a specific intent to violate the law
was sufficient, or whether the jury was required to find that the taxpayer
acted with bad purpose or evil motive. In United States v.
Pomponio (S.Ct.1976), a per curiam decision,
the Court seemed surprised that lower courts were requiring a finding
of bad purpose or evil motive. The Court stated that the lower
courts "incorrectly" assumed that the reference to an 'evil motive'
in United States v. Bishop and earlier cases meant something more than
the specific intent to violate the law***." The Court then stated
the meaning of the term in language that remains standard definition:
willfulness "simply means a voluntary, intentional violation of a known
courts and commentators still refer to the evil motive or bad purpose
requirement, it is important to recognize that these terms are illustrative
and do not impose any additional proof requirement. Thus, a jury
finding that a defendant acted with an evil motive is tantamount to
the ultimate finding of willfulness; on the other hand, a jury can find
that a defendant acted willfully without finding that he acted with
bad purpose or evil motive. In other words, although a voluntary
violation of a known legal duty may reflect a bad purpose or evil motive,
the Government need not prove, and the jury need not find, both the
specific intent to violate the law and evil motive or bad purpose.
supra, makes clear, the term willfulness means the same thing in
tax felonies as it does in tax misdemeanors. There is no lesser
standard of intent for the willful failure to file misdemeanor than
for the felony of attempted tax evasion: both require a voluntary,
intentional violation of a known legal duty. Carelessness
or mistake is insufficient in both the felony and the misdemeanor context.
[Tax Procedure and Tax
Fraud, Patricia Morgan, West Publishing, pp. 310-312, ISBN 0-314-06586-5,
United States v. Burton, 737 F.2d. 439 (1984):
"A bona fide misunderstanding of the tax laws negate essential element of willfulness and in that sense is a 'defense'".
[United States v. Burton, 737 F.2d 439 (1984)]