Asher Harris represents victim of child pornography before the IRS, receives ruling confirming that restitution payments are tax-free

A victim of child pornography has recovered restitution payments from persons in possession of her image under a federal restitution statue, 18 U.S.C. § 2259.  The tax characterization of the payments she received was unclear, leaving her and similarly situated victims unsure whether their recoveries were subject to income tax.

In collaboration with the Law Firm of James Marsh[1], Mr. Harris presented the issue to the Internal Revenue Service.  The IRS issued a private letter ruling to the effect that her recoveries constitute “compensation for injury or sickness”, and qualify for tax-free status under Section 104 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Earlier this year, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari on a critical aspect of the calculation of damages in child pornography cases, agreeing to decide what, if any, causal relationship or nexus between the defendant’s conduct and the victim’s harm or damages the government or the victim must establish in order to recover restitution under the Mandatory Restitution for Sexual Exploitation of Children Act of 1994.

Articles:

  • Cross-Border payments of Alimony:  U.S. Tax Consequences, Family Law Review (New York State Bar Association), Spring 2010
  • Tax Liabilities and Refund Claims of Insolvent Insurance Companies,
    Insurance Tax aReview, January 2005
  • Civil Rights Tax Relief: New Act Impacts Treatment of Legal Fees,
    New York Law Journal, November 17, 2004

[1] www.marshlaw.us/
Tax Consequences of the Disposition of the Marital Residence,
Family Law Review (New York State Bar Association), Summer 2005

NY Times article