Friday, April 25, 2008

Wesley Snipes Gets 3 Years In Prison

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.


  1. I don't know. While I don't like these tax evaders, I'm not sure if they're entirely to blame for this stuff. They're fed this entire worldview that convinces them that taxes are a hoax and they fall for it. Sure, they should know better, but they don't. They truly believe that there's some magic loophole that Bill Gates and all his accountants just haven't found yet. And while Snipes is a decent actor; tax expert he's not.

    This isn't to entirely excuse his actions, but I really do wish there was some other way than prison. That seems so harsh for someone who clearly got conned. I've known a few of these Taxes are for Dummies people, and they truly are brainwashed into believing it's true. I once knew an ex-employee of one of my clients who didn't want me to send her her W2 for the year, even though she had taxes withheld and might have gotten a refund. She was so wrapped into this stuff that she just couldn't understand that they already had her money. She clearly imagined she was winning some game even by avoiding her W2.

    If anything, I think they should have fined the shit out of Snipes and forced him to publicly denounce these tax avoidance schemes in public service announcements and whatnot. That's the main problem: These guys write these books and insist that they never get punished for avoiding taxes, and these people believe it. Somehow, these people fail to understand why rich people bribe Republicans to lower their taxes. They're told what they want to hear and that's good enough for them.

  2. Darn, I thought for a minute that he was willing to go to prison becuse he was making a statement that he didn't want his money going to fund a corrupt war or something. He would rather donate the money to charity or something where it would actually do some good. I know it's not that, but that would have been exciting to me (though likely ineffective anyway). He coulda spun it at least. Where was his publicist when he needed him?


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