Thursday, July 22, 2010

Blade is Defeated

The vampires couldn't beat Blade, but the feds did.

Wesley Snipes is looking at a three-year sentence for tax problems
, and he's close to being sent to the joint.

The feds like high-profile cases as examples when they can win one, which tends to be infrequently. For every Martha Stewart, there are a lot of rich folks with good lawyers who skate completely or cut deals to avoid going to the big house.

Snipes did beat the fraud and conspiracy charges, but got nailed on three failure-to-file-returns, which are misdemeanors, but worth a maximum of a year each. The appeals court just upheld the three-year sentence. Unless Snipes' lawyers have an ace up their sleeve, he's got a room in the graybar hotel in his future.

As I understand it, Snipes made thirty-eight million dollars during that three-year period. He got hooked up with one of those you-don't-gotta-pay-taxes organizations and liked what they were telling him. Big mistake, compounded by trying to collect a big refund on taxes he had paid but that was based on, um, less than forthright information.

The deal goes something like this: Dude, you don't have to pay taxes, don't have to file returns, it's voluntary. They won't come after you, and even if they should, all you have to do is say you got bad tax advice and blame your tax guys. Pay a fine, you are gold.

Alas, the IRS holds the taxpayer responsible even if he makes an honest mistake based on what they tell him if he asks -- "I called the IRS, they told me to do this, I did, and now they want blood!" -- this happens all the time. In Snipes' case, the feds felt he was trying to pull a fast one, and while they couldn't make the fraud and conspiracy stuff stick, they could ramp up the sentence on the stuff they could get him on.

Is there an element of racism here? I don't know. But it's hard to feel sorry for somebody who made thirty-eight million dollars and decided he didn't have to give Uncle his cut. I don't like paying my taxes, either, but I do it. Cost of living in the republic.

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