October 28, 2021

Wesley Snipes

The Year in Taxes: Sleepwalking Through 2011

  In January, the tax world was still reeling from the extension of the Bush-era tax rate cuts signed into law in December.  It also allowed rich people who died in 2010 to go to their rest without paying estate taxes, making George Steinbrenner a happy ghost.  It also allowed living taxpayers to make tax-free […]

Supreme Court Has Better Things to Do Than Listen to Wesley Snipes’ Appeal

The Nine are not easily starstruck.

And there is no celebrity high court that we are aware of, so this could be the last time we ever have to speak of this again. [TaxProf]

Wesley Snipes’s Prison Sentence Seems Pretty Fair

After suffering in tax and appellate court purgatory for several years, Wesley Snipes is finally reporting to prison today for his conviction of willful failure to file tax returns. There’s a whole slew of stories out there on the subject because a celebrity is going to prison, in case you weren’t aware, is important news.

However, as we told you about last week, some people aren’t convinced that the sentence is fair.

Responding to a post by Tim Cavanagh at Reason, rather than embrace mostly inflammatory nonsense, our friend Joe Kristan writes an objective analysis to get to the bottom of the debate:

Mr. Snipes was convicted of three counts of willfully failing to file tax returns for three years. The federal guidelines for prison sentences on tax crimes are largely based on the “tax loss” determined for the crime. Mr. Snipes’ “tax loss” was determined to be over $40 million, which would by itself indicate a sentence of at least 78 months – 6 1/2 years — under the guidelines. Since the maximum sentence for three counts of failure to file is the three years he got, the sentence is actually smaller than the guidelines would indicate.

Now, you may be saying to yourself, “The sentence is longer because a nasty judge is making an example out of one of the most important American artists in vampire cinema!” Joe checked into that too:

But Mr. Snipes still has a legitimate complaint if he’s the only person getting jailed for criminal failure to file, or he’s getting a much longer sentence than others. Is his sentence exceptional?

I don’t know of any statistical study of tax sentences, so we’ll go to the Google. (prison failure to file -snipes). The first page of results includes:

Anthony Kevin Slicker: $265,477 tax loss, 12 month sentence for failing to file for 1 year.

Steven A. Roebuck, Dentist: unknown tax loss, two-year sentence for failing to file for two years.

Arlan Turley, Dentist: 18 months, unknown tax loss, failure to file for two years.

Contrary to Tim Cavenaugh, then, other people get the maximum sentence 12-month per-year for willful failure to file, even with much lower tax losses.

Will the culture suffer? That’s up for debate. But willful failure to file taxes still happens to be a crime with punishment guidelines. If Wes was really saving all of us from vampires maybe the judge would have a good reason to make an exception. Although, that could make for a decent screenplay (straight to video, natch). Three years should be enough time to nail it down.

One Man’s Holiday Wish List Includes Tim Geithner and Charlie Rangel Sharing a Prison Cell with Wesley Snipes

Actually, if Wes Benedict, Executive Director of the Libertarian Party, had his way, Wes wouldn’t be doing time at all.

“The three-year federal prison sentence for Snipes’s failure to file tax returns is absurd. Snipes is not a threat to anyone, and the judge who sentenced him clearly just wanted to scare others who might think about resisting federal taxes.

“Maybe it’s worth reminding people that Wesley Snipes was acquitted of tax fraud and conspiracy charges in 2008. He was only found guilty on misdemeanor charges of ‘willful failure to file an income tax return.’


Right, so the ‘willful failure’ part is where we kind of have a problem. If you willfully fail to control your urge to get cop-slugging drunk and then actually slug a cop, you have committed a crime. Mr Benedict doesn’t buy it though:

“Why is a failure to file a tax return a criminal non-act? Should people ever be sent to prison for not doing something? If the IRS wants to come after Snipes and take his money, they have power to do that. Who does it help to send the man to prison?

“The tax code is incredibly vague and open to interpretation [Ed note: UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE CENTURY]. In fact, the ‘law’ is largely written by IRS bureaucrats. If they decide the law says one thing, you’re OK; if they decide it’s something else, then you’re headed for prison.

“The federal tax code also allows for ‘selective enforcement,’ to put it mildly. Why is it that Wesley Snipes gets a prison sentence, but known tax cheat Tim Geithner gets promoted to Secretary of the Treasury? Maybe Tim should be Wesley’s cellmate. Throw tax cheat politician Charlie Rangel in the slammer too for good measure.

Tim Geithner’s poor choice in self-prep tax software and an actor giving the 16th Amendment the middle finger for 10+ years aren’t quite the same thing. Maybe it’s just us.

[h/t Tracy Coenen]

You Realize We Will Be Without Wesley Snipes for Three Years, Don’t You?

Sure, it could be shortened for reasons that can’t currently be foreseen but this is a huge blow to the culture…oh, to hell with it.

Judge Terrell Hodges was fed up with this circus and dude is going to jail.

Wesley Snipes was ordered on Friday to start serving a three-year prison sentence for a felony tax conviction after a Florida judge rejected his bid for a new trial.

“The Defendant Snipes had a fair trial … The time has come for the judgment to be enforced,” U.S. District Judge Terrell Hodges said in his ruling.

As Unlikely As It Might Be, We’re Rooting for Ken Starr and Wesley Snipes to Be Cellmates

While Wes continues to fight his conviction (sometimes using unorthodox methods) on tax evasion tooth and nail, Ken Starr is ready to get on with it and pleaded guilty today to charges related to his Ponzi to the Stars.


Government sentencing guidelines have Starr looking at 10 to 12.5 years which is long enough to outlast the appeals that Willie Mays Hayes has out there.

Since we’re not at all familiar with how convicts are assigned their prison quarters, our desire for an awkward reunion between Snipes and Starr that includes debating over who gets the top bunk is merely wishful thinking. If it lightning stirkes, we’ll just chalk it up to the gods smiling down on us all.

Financial Adviser to Stars Pleads Guilty to Fraud [NYT]

How Desperate Is Wesley Snipes to Stay Out of Jail?

SO desperate that in addition to appealing his conviction on any possible grounds, that he has hired private dicks (allegedly!) to following Ponzi Schemer du jour (allegedly!) Ken Starr’s wife, Diane Passage.


Passage told the Post, “I was leaving, and I noticed two men trailing behind me. They stood out because they were wearing dark suits on a 90-degree day. They followed me for a block and a half, then I lost them because they were sweating so much. They contacted my doorman and my attorney, and said they wanted information that might help Snipes. He was a client [of Starr] in 2000 but before I met my husband. I have nothing to do with his taxes.”

So, naturally, this is all very confusing, as the connection between the pole dance master’s problems (frozen bank accounts) and Willie Mays Hayes’s problems (looking at 3 years in the joint for tax evasion) is basically nil.

The only that we can come up with is that Wes is reaching the obscurely known “celebrity realizes that they are for real, like really real, going to jail” freak-out stage.

Wesley Snipes has private eyes after Ponzi schemer Starr’s wife [NYP]

Can Someone Give Wesley Snipes a Hug?

Because the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruined his day, “The district court acted well within its considerable discretion in sentencing Snipes to thirty-six months in prison.”

WS was looking for probation for his conviction of willful failure to file federal income tax returns.


wes snipes

[h/t White Collar Crime y TaxProf]

Wesley Snipes May Still Be Able to Get Back into the Vampire Game

If it wasn’t for WS, there would be no vampire craze. Sure the last Blade film was six years ago. And sure the first in the series was twelve years ago but it doesn’t mean the man still didn’t start the popularization of bloody-thirsty, sexy undead types.

However, this prison sentence thing hanging over his head has probably made him a bit of a liability. But thanks to some crafty lawyering, he’s been able to stave off the joint long enough to catch a bit of luck.


Since Ponzi-schemer-to-the-stars Kenneth Starr has been outed as a complete shame (not to mention a complete wuss) Wes can get back to the business of making truckloads of cash in this bloodsucking phenomenon:

A federal appeals panel is considering whether the arrest of actor Wesley Snipes’ former financial adviser could pave the way for a new trial on tax evasion charges.

Snipes was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison in 2008, but his attorneys asked the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta to allow a new request to dismiss the movie star’s conviction or grant him a new trial.

The motion centers on the arrest of Kenneth Starr, the one-time financial adviser to Snipes and other celebrities.
He was a key witness in Snipes’ 2008 trial but was charged in May with securities fraud worth $59 million.

Federal panel considers Wesley Snipes’ appeal [AP]

Wesley Snipes Doesn’t Want to Deprive the Public of His Art

WesleySnipesR.jpgSo he simply can’t do three ‘unreasonable’ years in prison. Nevermind that he was convicted of “willful failure to file his income tax returns,” the cultural community simply cannot be do without the likes of The Art of War II: The Betrayal.

Snipes was sentenced in April 2008 in what was considered a key victory for prosecutors who aggressively pursued the maximum penalty to deter others from trying to obstruct the IRS. They say he made at least $13.8 million for the years in question and owed $2.7 million in back taxes that he refused to pay.
Snipes apologized at the time, calling himself an idealistic artist who was “unschooled in the science of law and finance.”

The man A) apologized and B) had a good excuse: he is AN ARTIST. He can’t possibly be expected to make heads or tails of this tax law rigamarole, so three years? C’mon. Let it slide 11th Circuit. Besides, vampires are all the rage right now so Blade is bound to get hot again. Just you wait.
Wesley Snipes appeals 3 tax convictions in Georgia [AP]
See also: Wesley Wants to Walk [Tax Update Blog]