After a jury trial, respondents were convicted of willfully filing false income tax returns in violation of 26 U. S. C. § 7206 (1).1 Based on its reading of United States v. Bishop, 412 U.S. 346 (1973), the Court of Appeals held that the jury was incorrectly instructed concerning willfulness, and remanded for a new trial. 528 F.2d 247 (1975). The United States petitioned for certiorari. We reverse.
The respondents were charged with falsifying tax returns in two principal ways: (1) they allegedly caused corporations they controlled to report payments to them as loans, when they knew the payments were really taxable dividends; and (2) they allegedly claimed partnership losses as deductions knowing that the losses were properly attributable to a corporation. Their defense was that these transactions were correctly reported, or at least that they thought so at the time.
The jury was instructed that respondents were not guilty of violating § 7206 (1) unless they had signed the tax returns knowing them to be false,2 and had done so willfully. A willful act was defined in the instructions as one done "voluntarily and intentionally and with the specific intent to do something which the law forbids, that is to say with [the] bad purpose either to disobey or to disregard the law." Finally, the jury was instructed that "[g]ood motive alone is never a defense where the act done or omitted is a crime," and that consequently motive was irrelevant except as it bore on intent. The Court of Appeals held this final instruction improper because "the statute at hand requires a finding of a bad purpose or evil motive." 528 F. 2d, at 249. In so holding, the Court of Appeals incorrectly assumed that the reference to an "evil motive" in United States v. Bishop, supra, and prior cases meant something more than the specific intent to violate the law described in the trial judge's instruction.
In Bishop we held that the term "willfully" has the same meaning in the misdemeanor and felony sections of the Revenue Code, and that it requires more than a showing of careless disregard for the truth.3 We did not, however, hold that the term requires proof of any motive other than an intentional violation of a known legal duty. We explained the meaning of willfulness in § 7206 and related statutes:
"The Court, in fact, has recognized that the word `willfully' in these statutes generally connotes a voluntary, intentional violation of a known legal duty. It has formulated the requirement of willfulness as `bad faith or evil intent,' [United States v.] Murdock, 290 U. S. [389,] 398, or `evil motive and want of justification in view of all the financial circumstances of the tax-payer,' Spies [v. United States], 317 U. S. [492,] 498, or knowledge that the taxpayer `should have reported more income than he did.' Sansone [v. United States], 380 U. S. [343,] 353. See James v. United States, 366 U.S. 213, 221 (1961); McCarthy v. United States, 394 U.S. 459, 471 (1969)." 412 U. S., at 360.
Our references to other formulations of the standard did not modify the standard set forth in the first sentence of the quoted paragraph. On the contrary, as the other Courts of Appeals that have considered the question have recognized, willfulness in this context simply means a voluntary, intentional violation of a known legal duty. United States v. Pohlman, 522 F.2d 974, 977 (CA8 1975) (en banc), cert. denied, 423 U.S. 1049 (1976); United States v. McCorkle, 511 F.2d 482, 484-485 (CA7) (en banc), cert. denied, 423 U.S. 826 (1975); United States v. Greenlee, 517 F.2d 899, 904 (CA3), cert. denied, 423 U.S. 985 (1975); United States v. Hawk, 497 F.2d 365, 366-369 (CA9), cert. denied, 419 U.S. 838 (1974). The trial judge in the instant case adequately instructed the jury on willfulness. An additional instruction on good faith was unnecessary.
As an alternative ground for ordering a new trial, the Court of Appeals held that respondents were entitled to instructions exonerating them if they believed that the payments to them were loans and that the losses belonged to the partnership, 528 F. 2d, at 250. Our inspection of the record indicates that such instructions were given and that they were adequate.4
The respondents' other allegations of error which the Court of Appeals found it unnecessary to reach should be considered by that court in the first instance.
The petition for certiorari is granted, the judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
It is so ordered.