I wrote in May, 2009, about the travails of the actor Wesley Snipes resulting from his criminal conviction for three counts of willful failure to file income tax returns. I mentioned in April, 2012, that he was still in prison for claiming that he didn’t have to file income tax returns. More recently, I was wondering just a few months ago if he had been released.
I just found out that Snipes has been released from prison, although he still isn’t free. According to reports at Forbes.com and sfgate.com, he was released to home confinement to serve out the remainder of his sentence, which will end later this month.
You remember the story, right? Snipes claimed, apparently because some Vulcans posing as tax advisers did a mind-meld on him, that he didn’t have to pay income taxes to the tune of some $7 million (that’s the tax he owed, according to Forbes, not his income). His excuse was essentially that he was duped by his advisers, who convinced him (using the mind-meld, obviously; how else could they have planted the idea so firmly in his mind?) that his multi-million dollar income (compensation for his work as an actor) was not subject to the income tax.
After he was convicted, Snipes said he was sorry, that he made mistakes, but still claimed he was an innocent dupe. I’m not sure it makes him look better to his fans to say that he was that gullible, as opposed to just admitting that what he did was wrong.
I have said it before, and I will say it again: if anyone who says he or she is a tax expert tells you that you don’t have to pay tax on your income, don’t believe them. Also remember my rule about ways to avoid paying income tax: if you can think of it, someone else has probably already tried it.
Or take the example of Mr. Waltner, the guy I wrote about in March of this year. You may recall that he was the guy who relied on a book titled Cracking the Code. The Tax Court made pretty short work of his reasons why he didn’t have to pay income tax. If you think you might genuinely not be required to file a tax return, I suggest that you refer to the topic, “Do I Have To File a Return” in IRS Publication 17. You’ll find it in the publications section of the IRS web site at irs.gov.
Nathan B. Hannah is a Shareholder in the Tucson office, and practices in the areas of estate planning and administration, real estate, and commercial transactions. He is also a noted blogger, and you can find more of his articles on his private blog,
Contact Attorney Hannah: firstname.lastname@example.org or 520/ 322-5000