Yesterday, Wesley Snipes was sentenced to three years in prison. He had been convicted of three misdemeanor counts of failing to file tax returns. The judge gave him the maximum sentence, saying he felt it was important to deter "tax avoidance".
Snipes had made at least $38 million since 1999, but did not even bother to file a return or pay any taxes. He told the court, "I am very sorry for my mistakes and errors. This will never happen again."
He repeatedly tried to give the court three checks totaling $5 million, but the court refused to take them. An IRS agent took the checks during a court break. The prosecutor called it a "grandstand move" and said it was only a portion of the taxes owed.
I like Wesley Snipes. I think he's a good actor and I enjoyed his movies. But I can't bring myself to feel sorry for him. This was not a mistake made in a good faith effort to pay his taxes. He just decided he didn't think he should have to pay any taxes.
This is inexcusable, especially when you consider the millions of workers who make far less but manage to pay their taxes. Snipes should consider himself lucky he wasn't convicted of more serious charges and given a much longer sentence.
Now the government needs to go after other tax avoiders, including rich white guys who hide their money off-shore to avoid taxes.