Jury selection in the tax evasion trial of actor Wesley Snipes has begun, with documents from prosecutors showing that Snipes failed to pay taxes on the $38 million in income he earned between 1999 and 2004.
Snipes joined a group of tax protestors in 2000, two of whom are co-defendants in the trial. The group claimed that only the foreign earnings of U.S. citizens are subject to taxation. He was warned by the Internal Revenue Service in 2002 that he was under investigation and that his tax arguments were frivolous.
Despite the warnings, Snipes continued to fail to pay federal income taxes or file returns, even as he earned tens of millions of dollars for the Blade movies, according to prosecutors. Snipes is charged with filing a false claim for $11.3 million in taxes he paid in 1996 and 1997. Prosecutors claim he sent the government three fraudulent checks totaling $14 million to pay for some of the taxes he owed.
His co-defendants are Douglas Rosile, who lost his accounting license in 1997, and Eddie Ray Kahn, who founded a group that Snipes joined in 2000. Snipes faces up to a 16-year jail term if convicted, while Rosile and Kahn face up to 10 years each.
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