Actor Wesley Snipes was found not guilty of felony charges of tax fraud and conspiracy, but was found guilty on three misdemeanor charges of failing to file a tax return for three years.
He was also acquitted of three other misdemeanor charges. Snipes, 45, faces three years in prison as opposed to the 16 he might have served if he had been convicted on all counts. The Blade trilogy star faced trial with a tax protest leader, Eddie Ray Kahn, and a former CPA who lost his licenses in Ohio and Florida, Douglas Rosile. They were convicted on separate felony counts.
Snipes had faced charges of failing to file tax returns on at least $58 million he and his movie company earned from 1999 to 2004 and asking the Internal Revenue Service for refunds of $11 million for the taxes he paid in 1996 and 1997.
Snipes had sent letters to the IRS challenging the government's right to collect taxes from him, arguing that he was legally a "nontaxpayer." He became involved in Kahn's tax protestor movement after he learned that his 1999 income tax would be more than $2 million. The group promoted the concept that only foreign earnings were subject to taxation.
Snipes wrote to the IRS, "My question at this point is: Does the IRS help 'nontaxpayers' such as myself in not complying with laws they are clearly not subject to and thereby provide them equal protection of the laws mandated by Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment and 42 USC S1981? My experience to date says not, but maybe the IRS is willing to at least acknowledge 'nontaxpayers' instead of ignoring and persecuting them and refusing to acknowledge their existence as they have in my case to date."
"Nobody likes paying taxes, but paying taxes is the price we pay to live in a civilized society," said Assistant U.S. Attorney M. Scotland Morris in his closing argument.
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