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Snipes: Appealing everything, ordered to pay prosecution costs.

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Judge rules Snipes must reimburse government

Aug 6, 7:11 AM (ET)

(AP) In this Feb. 24, 2008 file photo, Wesley Snipes arrives at the 80th Academy Awards in Los Angeles....

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OCALA, Fla. (AP) - Actor Wesley Snipes must reimburse the government in prosecution costs for his tax conviction.

According to court documents, U.S. District Court Judge William Terrell Hodges ruled last week the action film star must reimburse the government about $217,000. Snipes, star of the "Blade" trilogy and "White Men Can't Jump" among other movies, had objected to the cost.

A message left with Snipes' attorney was not immediately returned Tuesday.

A jury convicted Snipes in February of three counts of willfully failing to file his income taxes. He has appealed the convictions and his three-year prison sentence.

Original conviction:


Snipes' jail time: A tax-protest 'wake-up call'

A Hollywood actor's tax protest ends in jail time - a "loud and crystal-clear message" to resisters who believe they and their employees owe no income tax.

Wesley Snipes gestures as he leaves federal court after he was sentenced to three years in prison for willful failure to file a tax return on April 24, 2008 at the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Ocala, Fla.

(FORTUNE Small Business) -- Actor Wesley Snipes was sentenced Thursday to three years in prison for failing to file tax returns. Despite surprising the court with a $5 million down payment on his outstanding tax balance, Snipes received the maximum jail time requested by federal prosecutors.

"The three-year sentence sends a loud and crystal-clear message to any would-be tax defier that if you engage in this illegal conduct, you can and will go to prison," said Nathan Hochman, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's tax division.

The case's lead prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Robert O'Neill, echoed that assessment.

"The courts sent a really clear message that Americans must file and pay taxes," he said. "If you have a legitimate dispute with the IRS, contact the IRS and dispute what you believe you're due and owe. You can't just totally fail to satisfy your legal obligation like Mr. Snipes did."

Stop overpaying the IRS

Snipes went on trial in January for failing to file income taxes returns between 1999 and 2004, during which he made an estimated $38 million from movie projects such as the popular vampire trilogy Blade. Prosecutors said that Snipes also fraudulently filed for $11 million in refunds on income taxes paid in 1996 and 1997.

Snipes' attorneys argued that their client innocently fell victim to poor tax advice provided by his two co-defendants, Eddie Ray Kahn and Douglas Rosile.

Kahn and Rosile were both convicted in February on felony charges of tax fraud and conspiracy. They were sentenced yesterday to 10 years and 54 months in jail, respectively.

Snipes was convicted on three misdemeanor counts but was acquitted of serious felony charges, a verdict that was seen as a victory in the eyes of some tax protestors.

However, insurance analyst JJ MacNab, who is working on a book about the tax-protest movement, believes that the sentencing has sent a wake-up call to members of the defiant community, many of whom are small-business owners.

"There are people who are saying that they didn't argue his case correctly," she said. "But others realize that if Snipes can't do it with a team lawyers, how can they?"

In his statement to the court, Snipes apologized for his "mistakes" but steered clear of acknowledging intentional wrongdoing, according to observers.

"[snipes] said he was sorry for his actions but he never used the word 'crimes' and he never used the word 'tax,'" said Hochman, who was present when U.S. District Judge William Terrell Hodges announced the sentence in Ocala, Fla. "I think it's an indication that Mr. Snipes, to this day, has not fully accepted responsibility for his actions."

In addition to the jail time, Snipes, 45, is being charged millions by the IRS for back taxes, penalties and interest. Defense attorney Linda Moreno declined to comment about her client's sentence, but said that a notice of appeal will be filed within the next few days.

Prosecutor O'Neill said he's confident the ruling will stand.

"In my opinion that was an error-free trial," he said. "In order to succeed in an appeal, you have to point to something that occurred in the trial that denied the individual due process of law. I don't see that happening."

This is a piece of what is wrong with America. We say we dont have royalty here in the states, but we defintiely have a "cult of celebrity caste system." We have people that think the laws just dont apply to them, but absolutely do to the rest of us paeans. That is what is at the root of most problems here in the US. We have celebrities and politicians tell us we must send our kids to public schools that are absolute failures while they and the folks that are in Washington send their kids to very expensive private schools.

Another example with Al Franken from Minnesota Public Radio:



Accountants: Franken's tax problems should have been caught

Minnesota Public Radio ^ | May 2, 2008 | Curtis Gilbert

Posted on Friday, May 02, 2008 8:49:19 AM by george76

Al Franken's accountant hasn't talked to reporters since Franken blamed him for giving him bad tax advice. But tax experts say the accountant should have known that Franken, who is seeking the DFL endorsement to run against GOP Sen. Norm Coleman, needed to pay taxes in the 19 different states where Franken earned money in the last four years.

Minnesota Public Radio News contacted 60 local accountants, and heard back from a dozen of them. They all said Franken is ultimately responsible for making sure he pays taxes in the right states.

most of them also echoed Woodbury tax accountant Michael Shaffer.

"It really seemed like it was a rookie mistake," ...

Franken says he will pay those states now, plus interest and penalties for a total of about $70,000...

The divvying up of tax payments based on where you've worked is called apportionment, and while accountant Michael Shaffer says it can be complex to calculate, it's not exactly an obscure accounting principle.

"I learned it in my first tax class in college"

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Re Snipes:

My first thought was "THREE years for misdeameanors seems like a lot"...but then noticed the charges included failing to file--come on, Wes, only an idiot or crook would think there's no reason to FILE at your income level! ...and $11 million in refunds from '96 and '97, then you don't file from '99 to '04? :blink: Don't you think that might trigger some alarms somewhere?

Re Franken:

Of course we are all individually responsible for our tax returns even if we hire others to do them. However, if I hired a professional to do my taxes, I would probably trust him or her to steer me right...I'm certainly no authority on the tax laws of multiple different states. It does sounds like Franken got bad advice for which he's now making recompense.

My feeling is, however, there's a big difference in culpability between a $70,000 error divided among nineteen different entities (states) and $11,000,000 in refunds from the Feds alone! ...Although others may argue that's repeated, multiple (19) violations in different jurisdictions vs. just one.

(I've always thought if I had the income of most celebrities, I would hire two independent accounting firms to handle my business, then compare their two separate reports against each other. Of course, I also don't understand the DUI's that rich celebrities get, because at that income level: Hire a driver, stupid!)

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I'm loving it. Maybe now folks will pay attention the raping that is income tax. Maybe this will get enough attention that folks say, "I don't want to pay either." Then maybe the door can open for a consumption tax in which we don't have to put up with this unconstitutional confiscation of our hard earned money by our loving government any more.

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