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February 1, 2008

Wesley Snipes Acquited of Most Tax Charges

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Snipes Is Acquitted of Tax Felonies


The actor Wesley Snipes was acquitted of the most serious charges against him on Friday.. Mr. Snipes was found not guilty on two felony charges of fraud and conspiracy...

He was also acquitted on three misdemeanor charges of failing to file tax returns or to pay taxes, but was convicted on three others. He faces up to three years in prison.

Mr. Snipes had become an unlikely public face for the tax-denier movement, whose members maintain that Americans are not obligated to pay income taxes and that the government extracts taxes from its citizens illegally.

Two co-defendants — Eddie Ray Kahn, a promoter of tax denial, and Douglas Rosile, a disbarred accountant — were convicted on separate felony counts.

“The verdict shows that promoters face serious jail time” but clients who follow their advice will face a lesser but still-serious risk, said JJ MacNab, a Maryland insurance analyst who attended the trial and is writing a book about tax deniers.

Even as Congress has reduced income tax rates, the tax denier movement has spread, fueled by high payroll taxes, political attacks on the Internal Revenue Service and anger among people who have not benefited from decades of strong overall economic growth.

Instead of prosecuting all offenders, the Justice Department brings cases against well-known individuals, hoping that widespread news coverage will encourage compliance, a policy known as general deterrence.

Tax deniers assert variously that the tax laws are valid but do not apply to them, that no law makes anyone liable for taxes and that the government tricks people into paying. Promoters of tax denial claim that people can legally stop paying income taxes by executing certain documents, or by not signing others, such as tax returns. Courts have rejected all of these arguments.

Mr. Snipes, 45, was indicted in October 2006 on two felony charges: fraud for filing a false claim for a $7 million refund (of taxes paid in 1997, before he stoped paying taxes), and conspiracy with his two co-defendants to defraud the government.

Mr. Snipes was also charged with six misdemeanor counts of failing to file tax returns or to pay taxes on at least $58 million he and his film company earned from 1999 to 2004.

Since 1986, Mr. Snipes had appeared in more than 50 films, earning at least $103 million, court papers showed...

Posted by jsmooth995 at February 1, 2008 5:43 PM

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