With the US Court of Appeals recent decision to affirm Wesley Snipes’ criminal tax conviction, it looks like Wesley Snipes may have to rely on the royalties from his cheesy “Total Gym” Infomercials to pay off his substantial legal fees and restitution incurred from his long battle with the IRS. I wonder if the Federal Prison has a Total Gym?? Maybe he can shoot an updated Total Gym infomercial from prison…
This affirmation strikes close to home. Not only was Snipes born in Orlando, Florida, on July 31, 1962, graduating from Jones High School in Orlando, but it was the Federal District Court out of Ocala, Florida that secured Snipes’ guilty verdict.
Despite residing in Windermere, Florida, Snipes filed multiple unsuccessfully motions in an attempt to move the trial location from the Federal District Court in Ocala, Florida to New York. Snipes argued that Ocala, Florida was the “most racially discriminatory venue available, with the best possibility of an all-white jury,” and that the Ocala area was a “hotbed of Klan activity.”
Snipes was charged with multiple counts of criminal tax fraud. Count One charged Snipes and his two co-defendents, Eddie Kahn and Douglas Sosile with conspiracy to defraud the Government by impeding the IRS and its collection of Income Taxes. Count Two charged all three defendants with filing false claims of refund for income taxes Snipes paid in previous tax years. Count Three through Eight charged Snipes alone with six counts of willfully failing to file his income tax return for years 1999 through 2004.
Snipes became involved with co-defendents Kahn and Sosile sometime in 2000 when he joined Kahn’s shady organization, “American Rights Litigators” (ARL), a subsidiary of Kahn’s other organization, “The Guiding Light of God Ministries.” Despite having no legal training, Kahn, through ARL, taught Snipes how to could avoid paying taxes via Constitutional and Statutory arguments challenging the IRS’s authority to collect tax. With ARL assistance, Snipes sent voluminous letters to the IRS, challenging their authority to collect tax by asserting the “861 Argument.”
The 861 Argument (from IRC Section 861(a)) basically says that domestic earnings of Americans do not qualify as “taxable US income” because such is not specifically listed as a source of taxable income. This is a horrible argument seeing that IRC Section 61 is the broad provision for income INCLUSION. Without a specific provision EXCLUDING income from tax, the income will be included in taxable income. Despite one of his arguments asserting his Constitutional rights as an US citizen, Snipes conversely argued that he was not and had never been a US citizen, therefore was a non-resident alien whose sole source of income came from sources wholly outside of the US.
Snipes did not stop at merely refusing to pay income taxes in 1999-2004 despite earning over $37 million, but he also sent multiple altered 1040X Forms to the IRS in an attempt to collect a refund for over $20 million from income taxes he paid in prior years.
On February 1, 2008, the District Court’s Jury found Snipes guilty on Counts Three through Five for willful failure to file individual income tax returns for years 1999-2001, sentencing him to 36 months of incarceration. Although the convicted charges were only misdemeanors, the court was able to enhance Snipes’ sentence by the aggravating factors, including Snipes obstruction of justice (destroying evidence and hiding money in foreign accounts) and the substantial financial loss to the government (over $41 million in loss taxes).
Instead of his frivolous 861 Argument, Snipes should have claimed insanity for letting Kahn and his “Guiding Light of God Ministries” brainwash him into thinking that he was never a US citizen. Seriously, if he’s not a citizen of the US, where the heck does he reside…the “Guiding Light” in the sky?