Wesley Snipes Had Judge Joe Brown as a Character Witness, & Other Fun Facts

Senior Editor
12.08.10 7 Comments

Wesley Snipes is all set to star in a new movie, Inmate 57.  I kid, I kid. His number is probably much higher than that.  I was just being humorous.

Wesley Snipes must begin his three-year prison sentence for failing to pay taxes before the holidays as originally ordered, and not afterward as the actor had requested.
Snipes asked a judge if he could surrender on Jan. 6 in Pennsylvania instead of on Thursday. The motion says Snipes has four young children and the “surrender date is in the middle of the holiday season.”
But a Florida judge denied his request Monday. The judge wrote that Snipes had plenty of time to prepare “for the impact that his incarceration will have upon members of his family” since he was sentenced more than two years ago. [Yahoo]

Long story short, Snipes says he was misled by his financial advisors (you can see him explain as much during his appearance on Larry King below).  Other fun trivia: TV Judge Joe Brown testified as a character witness on Snipes’ behalf at his sentencing hearing — a legal strategy I like to call “always bet on black” (sorry, had to shoehorn that in there somehow).  Meanwhile, Forbes suggests that the real story is that Snipes is part of a radical anti-tax group, and that the government is trying to make an example out of him:

A July decision by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholding Snipes’ conviction and sentence recounts how after becoming involved with the American Rights Litigators organization, Snipes failed to file individual federal returns from 1999 to 2004, despite grossing more than $37 million during those years. According to the decision, instead of 1040s, Snipes sent the IRS correspondence advancing various theories as to “why the IRS was powerless to collect income taxes from him” including “that he was a `non-resident alien to the United States,’ that earned income must come from `sources wholly outside the United States,’ that a `taxpayer is defined  by law as one who operates a distilled spirit Plant,’ and that the Internal Revenue Code’s taxing authority `is limited to the District of Columbia and insular possessions of the United States, exclusive of the 50 States of the Union.’’’

Snipes also submitted a refund claim for $7 million in taxes allegedly paid in error in 1997 and stopped deducting payroll and income taxes from the paychecks of his film production companies’ employees. He also began “to proselytize this theory of tax resistance” by inviting his employees to anti-tax seminars at his home, the appeals decision notes. [Forbes]

So yeah, sounds a little nutty.  But three-years-in-jail nutty?  I don’t know.  Regardless, let this be a lesson to all the famous actors out there:  if you want to hang out with crazy people and be exempt from taxes, you’re going to have to become a Scientologist.

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