For a number of years now, my wife and I have occasionally disagreed about where to retire.
For my part, I voted for Florida.
I don’t buy the whole climate change thing, because it seems New York winters grow colder on an exponential basis. Maybe I’m just getting old. But when I was 15 or so, a February temperature hovering at 10 degrees Fahrenheit seemed to bother me a whole lot less.
The bride, however, is leaning toward Virginia or even North Carolina for our golden years. I have to remind her that although it’s roughly six to eight hours south by car, that’s not quite far enough to escape my least favorite winter tandem — snow and ice.
However, after last week’s farcical verdict in the tax case of actor Wesley Snipes, it seems that the Sunshine State has more to offer potential residents than just an agreeable climate. I apparently have the option to decide not to file my tax returns and receive only a slight tap on the wrist.
The 45-year-old Snipes had been accused of tax fraud and conspiracy as well as charges of failing to file tax returns on at least $58 million he and his movie company earned from 1999 to 2004. Had he been found guilty on the most serious of the allegations, the action star could have checked into the Crowbar Hotel for as long as 16 years.
Instead, a star-struck jury acquitted Snipes on the most serious felony charges and instead found him guilty on just three misdemeanors.
If Snipes has basically been allowed to walk when he was facing a tax bill — not to mention interest and penalties — that more than likely approaches the gross national product of Grenada, just think of the insignificant legal penance I would have to undergo for sidestepping paying taxes on an editor’s humble salary.
All kidding aside, this head-scratching verdict has morphed into a tax evader’s version of the O.J. murder trial – without the gloves — in terms of incredulity.
Snipes put forth the incredible argument that he was legally a "nontaxpayer," after being “counseled” by a tax protest group who somehow convinced him that only foreign earnings were subject to taxation.
I’m guessing that Snipes suddenly became a lot more receptive to that argument after learning that his 1999 tax bill alone would be more than $2 million.
Snipes even had the temerity to write to the IRS inquiring as to whether the service helped non-taxpayers like him in not complying with laws they are clearly not subject to.
The hope is that the Snipes case doesn’t set a foolish legal precedent. However, it may do wonders in attracting future Florida residents.
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