Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

April 25, 2008

Wesley Snipes Gets 3 Years For Not Filing Taxes, But Don’t Tell Harry Reid

by Doug Mataconis

Actor Wesley Snipes, previously convicted on three misdemeanor charges of failing to file income taxes, has been sentenced to three years by a Federal Judge:

OCALA, Fla. — A federal judge on Thursday sentenced the actor Wesley Snipes to three years in prison for willfully failing to file tax returns.

Mr. Snipes, who was convicted in February, received one year for each count, to be served consecutively, and an additional year of probation. The sentence was handed down by Judge William Terrell Hodges of Federal District Court.

Mr. Snipes, who apologized for his actions before the sentence was announced, showed no immediate reaction to the verdict.

Judge Hodges allowed Mr. Snipes and a co-defendant, Douglas Rosile, to remain free on bond until they were summoned by either the United States Marshals Service or the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

The sentencing came at the end of a daylong hearing in which lawyers for Mr. Snipes argued for leniency while federal prosecutors sought the maximum penalty possible.

The case was the most prominent tax prosecution since the billionaire hotelier Leona Helmsley was convicted of tax fraud in 1989. Mr. Snipes, who has built a worldwide following acting in films like the “Blade” vampire trilogy, must pay up to $17 million in back taxes plus penalties and interest.

Like Helmsley, Snipes’ celebrity and refusal to admit his obvious wrong-doing hurt him significantly when it came to sentencing.

Of course, if he’d had Senate Majority Leader as his attorney, he might have fared better:

The said thing is, I think Senator Reid actually believes what he’s saying.

H/T: Freedom Democrats

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  • oilnwater

    i admire Snipes. the only slip-up was his token apology right before the sentence. maybe one day some of you LIMO’s will put your balls where your mouth is and refuse to pay Fed income tax.

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    Doug,

    I recognize that it’s stupidity to claim that you don’t have to pay income taxes given how entrenched it is in our society and how the Supreme Court has shot down tax protestors’ arguments. And Snipes quite obviously isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed given that he took his tax advice from a crackpot religious cult.

    But three years for misdemeanors? To make an “example” of the guy, even though he’s agreed to pay his taxes? I guess that if you’ve got any kind of name recognition it’s perfectly fine for the government to throw the book at you so they can scare the bejeezus out of anyone else who might want to dispute the inherent rightness of whatever the government chooses to do. Apparently, it’s not enough to give in to the government’s requirements on what portion of your money you give them…you have to grovel for forgiveness first and then cheerily accept your lot in life like a good little sheep.

    Seriously, Doug…you may not like or agree with what Wesley Snipes did (I certainly disagree with his approach and think he’s kind of an idiot) but the government’s response here is unacceptable and I think that libertarians should be appalled.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    Since I don’t know what the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which give the Judge very little discretion, have to say about this, I’m not going to say whether the Judge was right or wrong.

    What’s clear, though, is that Snipes would’ve gotten off a lot easier if he’d pled guilty, which he clearly was.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    i admire Snipes. the only slip-up was his token apology right before the sentence. maybe one day some of you LIMO’s will put your balls where your mouth is and refuse to pay Fed income tax.

    Personally, I’m not going to advise anyone to do something that is clearly illegal, could get them sent to a Federal Prison, and will lead to their wages, bank accounts, and homes being subject to federal tax liens.

    If you want to do it yourself, go right ahead, but I suggest buying a new toothbrush because the Feds don’t give you one.

  • oilnwater

    i’m talking to people who proclaim to be libertarian, yet actually practice nothing the philosophy teaches, thus the LIMOs

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    i’m talking to people who proclaim to be libertarian, yet actually practice nothing the philosophy teaches, thus the LIMOs

    Are you saying that someone who says they are a libertarian but refuses to engage in the suicidal practice of not paying income taxes is a LIMO ?

  • oilnwater

    what are the tenets of the philosophy regarding the role of Federal govt? oh i know your specific aversion to tax protest, and i’m just not going to bother beyond this.

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    Doug,

    He got the max sentence because prosecutors were pushing for it because they claimed that he didn’t actually show remorse (and because federal prosecutors these days always go for the maximum conviction, whether the situation merits it or not). So the judge had discretion in what sentence he could give. Snipes paid $5 million of the $17 million he owed before the sentence was even passed down and he gave a 10 minute speech apologizing for his actions. What more was the guy supposed to do?

    The only thing Snipes did wrong was retaining an apparently incompetent legal team.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    what are the tenets of the philosophy regarding the role of Federal govt? oh i know your specific aversion to tax protest, and i’m just not going to bother beyond this.

    I’m really not sure what you’re getting at here.

    The Constitution allows for an income tax, and the income tax laws exist. They are what they are.

    Yea, you can disagree with them. You can think that tax rates are two high.

    But you’ve got two choices.

    You can pay them, and then engage in political action to change the law.

    Or, you can break the law and suffer the consequences.

    This isn’t the holocaust were talking about here. It’s taxes.

    And some of us have families to worry about. Going to jail for your principles is great to talk about when you’re a single guy in college, but once you get older other responsibilities intrude.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    I’d also add that Snipes isn’t going to jail for his principles.

    He’s going to jail because he’s a moron who got bad legal advice.

  • oilnwater

    regardless of the tax amendment to the Constitution, the Fed gov is taking actions across the board that directly violate the most central of lib philosophy. disobedience is provided for in the Dec of Independence. and that should be plenty to show real libertarians what to do if they actually wanted to act on their conviction.

  • oilnwater

    that is political action. what LIMOs (which are virtually %100 of you) rationalize is simply being part of the system or trying to participate in it at an entry point which guarantees that the Fed gov will be continuing to take action violating the lib philosophy into the forseeable future.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    regardless of the tax amendment to the Constitution, the Fed gov is taking actions across the board that directly violate the most central of lib philosophy. disobedience is provided for in the Dec of Independence. and that should be plenty to show real libertarians what to do if they actually wanted to act on their conviction.

    Since when is violating the law, going to jail, and impoverishing your family a requirement for being a libertarian ?

    that is political action. what LIMOs (which are virtually %100 of you) rationalize is simply being part of the system or trying to participate in it at an entry point which guarantees that the Fed gov will be continuing to take action violating the lib philosophy into the forseeable future.

    If political action doesn’t matter, then I guess the whole Ron Paul campaign was pointless, huh ?

    Sorry, that was a shot I had to take ;)

  • oilnwater

    no more pointless than your own participation in politics or political opinion.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    Which is why I expend most of my energy worrying about my own well-being and that of my family.

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    Okay, at the risk of sounding clueless…what in the hell is a LIMO? Do you guys actually mean LINO (Libertarian In Name Only)?

    oilnwater,

    disobedience is provided for in the Dec of Independence. and that should be plenty to show real libertarians what to do if they actually wanted to act on their conviction.

    That’s only partially true…and Doug is correct as well. Yes, civil disobedience is a central tenet of the Declaration of Independence. But disobedience is not without its consequences, which you don’t seem willing to acknowledge. As Doug pointed out, each individual has the right to decide whether an act of disobedience is worth it to them based on their own particular self-interest, and aren’t required to engage in that act just because some group of libertarians claim it is “the right thing to do”. Being a supporter of individual freedom does not give you the right to compel someone else to oppose a law that you think is unjust…otherwise you are violating the very thing you claim to be upholding.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    LIMO = Libertarian In Massachusetts Only ?
    Libertarian Interested In Martian Obelisks ?
    Libertarian In Marvelous Obliviousness ?

  • oilnwater

    Lib in name only. “N” soops

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    Lib in name only. “N” oops

    It happens.:) Acronyms are pretty easy to repeatedly botch without noticing.

  • Ben

    oilnwater–since you’re obviously not a LIMO, you don’t ever pay any taxes right?

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/author/stephen/ Stephen Littau

    Harry Reid: “Taxes are voluntary.”

    That’s the best doublespeak I’ve ever heard!

  • oilnwater

    i’ve said it b4 and will say it again: i am not a libertarian. but also to clarify: i try to make most of my income in cash, which happens better in some years than others.

  • Thomas Blair

    oilnwater,

    LIMO meaning Libertarian in Mind Only would fit well with the way you’re using it.

  • Thomas Blair

    All voluntary compliance means is that the IRS allows you to calculate your tax bill. Taxes are not voluntary themselves.

  • Matthew Lee

    Libertarian: Are taxes voluntary?
    HR: Yes
    Libertarian: Are taxes compulsary
    HR: Yes
    Libertarian: Aren’t voluntary and compulsary ayntonyms?
    HR: In what context?
    Libertarian: In the context that they are ayntonyms.
    HR: I was talking about a different voluntary.
    Libertarian: I was talking about the ayntonym of compulsary.

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