The star of over 50 films including the “Blade” vampire trilogy has recently found himself playing a different role—the defendant in the most prominent tax prosecution in decades (since billionaire hotelier Leona Helmsley was convicted of tax fraud in 1989).
Wesley Snipes was sentenced to three years in prison yesterday for willfully failing to file tax returns. While he had argued for leniency, federal prosecutors sought the maximum penalty possible. In addition to his prison sentence, Snipes must pay up to $17 million in back taxes plus penalties and interest.
According to the New York Times, Snipes had reportedly earned at least $103 million since 1993 but he quit paying taxes in 1998 and sought a $7 million refund for taxes he paid in 1997. The interesting thing is that Snipes did not try to hide his non-payment. The actor apparently considered himself a “nontaxpayer” and even wrote the I.R.S. to notify them of this.
Snipes is by far the most prominent person in a small current of individuals and small business owners who have rejected the 16th Amendment, which in 1913 authorized the income tax. Asserting that the amendment was fraudulently adopted, these nontaxpayers argue that federal law does not apply to them and have stopped withholding taxes and paying the government. The Courts have rejected many of these assertions.
What’s next for Snipes? His legal team said they would appeal and are hoping for a complete acquittal.
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