Willfulness may be proven through inference from conduct meant to conceal or mislead sources of income or other financial information,” and it “can be inferred from a conscious effort to avoid learning about reporting requirements.” United States v. Sturman, 951 F.2d 1466, 1476 (6th Cir. 1991) (internal citations omitted) (noting willfulness standard in criminal conviction for failure to file an FBAR). Similarly, “willful blindness” may be inferred where “a defendant was subjectively aware of a high probability of the existence of a tax liability, and purposefully avoided learning the facts point to such liability.” United States v. Poole, 640 F.3d 114, 122 [107 AFTR 2d 2011-2163] (4th Cir. 2011) (affirming criminal conviction for willful tax fraud where tax preparer “closed his eyes to” large accounting discrepancies). Importantly, in cases “where willfulness is a statutory condition of civil liability, [courts] have generally taken it to cover not only knowing violations of a standard, but reckless ones as well.” Safeco Ins. Co. of America v. Burr, 551 U.S. 47, 57 (2007) (emphasis added). Whether a person has willfully failed to comply with a tax reporting requirement is a question of fact. Rykoff v. United States, 40 F.3d 305, 307 [74 AFTR 2d 94-6999] (9th Cir. 1994); accord United States v. Gormley, 201 F.3d 290, 294 [85 AFTR 2d 2000-514] (4th Cir. 2000) (“[T]he question of willfulness is essentially a finding of fact.”).
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