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Snipes vs. Supreme Court

By Kay Bell · Bankrate.com
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Posted: 3 pm ET

Wesley Snipes is continuing his fight to have his three misdemeanor convictions for not filing federal tax returns overturned. Regardless of the eventual legal ruling, this will be his last shot. He's taking his case, he hopes, to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The basis of Snipes' appeal is his claim, in a 49-page petition filed by his attorneys, that he was tried in the wrong place and that prosecutors should have been forced to meet a higher standard of proof on that point. The Constitution’s Bill of Rights says criminal cases must be brought in the judicial district where the alleged offense was committed.

Even before his tax trial began back in 2008, Snipes contended it shouldn't have been held in Florida. The actor's appeals petition contends that Snipes was a resident of New York, New Jersey or California during the tax years that were in question during his trial. The document also says that Snipes had not lived in Florida since childhood and spent almost no time there since.

However, federal prosecutors pointed to Snipes' ownership of a house in Windermere, Fla., and noted that he listed Florida as a residence on various official forms. Snipes also signed a document connected with the "tax protester" movement that he embraced in claiming a homestead exemption as a "citizen of the Republic State of Florida."

Legal experts say there's little chance that the Supreme Court will agree to hear Snipes' appeal. Less than 1 percent of such requests, known as writ of certiorari, are accepted.

So it's likely that Snipes will stay in the minimum security prison in Pennsylvania where he's serving out his three years for not sending the Internal Revenue Service tax returns for 1999, 2000 and 2001. He was acquitted of more serious felony charges of conspiracy to commit tax fraud.

Of course, Snipes could have saved himself a lot of grief, not to mention court fees, if he'd just hired a good tax advisor in the first place. During his trial, he argued that he simply did what his financial counselors advised.

Sorry, but those "I'm a victim" and "everyone is doing it" excuses rarely work, even for Hollywood stars. And they definitely don't qualify as legitimate reasons to avoid your tax obligations.

So settle in, Wesley. You're probably going to be stuck in the McKean Federal Correctional Institute in Bradford, Pa., until your scheduled July 19, 2013, release date.

Don't end up in the same type of tax trouble. Make sure you get all the latest tax news and tips this filing season by subscribing to Bankrate's free Daily Tax Tip newsletter.

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7 Comments
Death to tyrants!
April 02, 2011 at 9:14 pm

Give Wesley the same deal they gave senator Charles Rangel. Yeah, right!

bruce2
March 25, 2011 at 6:01 pm

So shouldnt Tim Gietner be right there with him?

Ironies prevail
March 10, 2011 at 9:38 am

Wesley Snipes, tax evasion, Clarence Thomas and The Supreme Court.

Thomas cannot listen to the case impartially because of his own tax imbroglio. He allegedly filed false tax information on his returns for 20 years. For 5 years he demonstrably, intentionally lied on his (joint) tax returns. His tax returns for this period are materially false. In so doing he allowed his wife's earned (taxable) income (~$680000) to go unreported.

In Missouri, a lawyer has filed a complaint with the state bar for Thomas’s own disbarment. It was within this complaint that the time line of 20 years was formally stated.

More sickening are the details of his wife’s (unreported) income. His wife's income came from political groups that had litigation before The Supreme Court at the time of his wife's employment.

If Chief Justice Roberts accepts this case, I suspect one would see Justice Thomas noticeably fidgeting in his chair. The court, out of necessity, will have to reject Snipes' appeal precisely because of Thomas' own tax evasion.

If Roberts chose to take the case, Thomas could recuse himself, but such an action could be perceived as imbruing the integrity of the court. This is not in the court’s best interest.

I do not know whether Snipes is guilty or innocent. I make no such statement. I do state, that because of Thomas, he cannot get a fair hearing at The Supreme Court.

This is why corruption must be rooted out of government. One cannot get justice under the law if the officials governing our system are dishonest.

Ironies prevail
March 10, 2011 at 9:25 am

Wesley Snipes, tax evasion, Clarence Thomas and The Supreme Court.

Thomas cannot listen to the case impartially because of his own tax imbroglio. He allegedly filed false tax information on his returns for 20 years. For 5 years he demonstrably, intentionally lied on his (joint) tax returns. His tax returns for this period are materially false. In so doing he allowed his wife's earned (taxable) income (~$680000) to go unreported.

In Missouri, a lawyer has filed a complaint with the state bar for Thomas’s own disbarment. It was within this complaint that the time line of 20 years was formally stated.

More sickening are the details of his wife’s (unreported) income. His wife's income came from political groups that had litigation before The Supreme Court at the time of is wife's employment.

If Chief Justice Roberts accepts this case, I suspect one would see Justice Thomas noticeably fidgeting in his chair. The court, out of necessity, will have to reject Snipes' appeal precisely because of Thomas' own tax evasion.

If Roberts chooses to take the case, Thomas could recuse himself, but such an action could be perceived as imbruing the integrity of the court. This is not in the court’s best interest.

I do not know whether Snipes is guilty or innocent. I make no such statement. I do state, that because of Thomas, he cannot get a fair hearing.

This is why corruption must be rooted out of government. One cannot get justice under the law if the officials governing our system are dishonest.

ron
March 07, 2011 at 11:39 pm

Well, I certainly am not a fan or supporter of mr. Snipes.
He knew what he did was wrong and now he is paying the price.
I would add that I think his sentance was somewhat excessive.
A year would have servrd the same purpose.
Just my opinion.

goodmarina
March 07, 2011 at 11:59 am

You may feel that this is a case of "I'm a victim" and "everyone is doing it" -- the problem I have with this whole case is that the government has different standards for different tax payers.

Snipes & his team offered to work something out with the prosecution -- it was rejected. Also,right about the same time Snipes was convicted, another American was given 6 months probation for pleading guilty to not paying over $45 mil in taxes, diverting his assets overseas (to hide it from the IRS) and failure to file (like Snipes).

In fairness - Snipes has paid over $40 million in taxes over the years ... and 3 years of federal prison time for 3 misdemeanors seems excessive and a waste of taxpayer money.

How come the other fellow (who used the same tax preparing firm -- a large, reputed firm at that) got 6 months probation?

This is a case of certain tax payers getting one type of treatment and others being held out to be made an example out of.

Right or wrong -- it is not fairness or equality under the law.

Words of Art
March 04, 2011 at 1:50 pm

The US Supreme Court has already ruled on this matter. "You are entitlted to 100% of the fruits of YOUR LABOR". The US Supremem Court has also already ruled that CENTRAL BANKS ARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL TWICE, and we all know the federal reserve bank is a PRIVATE FOR PROFIT CENTRAL BANK owned by overseas foreign bankers, and the IRS is nothing more than that central banks collection arm, same as the secret secret service. The bankers have to protect their investment. You legal eagles can research the exact cases yourselves for proof as I have. The way they got him is because he "signed" a FEDERAL form stating it to be true. They used that signature against him. Failing to file is NOT a crime when the tax itself is a voluntary FEDERAL tax, and he sure does not work for the federal government. Failiure to file taxes is not even listed in the federal register, and no state provides it a a crime in their penal codes.