Let me begin this entry by saying, I speak from experience as I was convicted of Tax Fraud and served time in Federal prison. It was not a fun experience and one thing I learned is – the law is the law – and cute arguments can’t make that fact change.
Seems that actor Wesley Snipes is facing criminal tax fraud charges – nothing to take lightly. According to the TaxProf Blog Mr. Snipes has made the following assertions:
Snipes flatly denies all of the government’s charges against him and insists that he filed returns for all of the years in question. And while he admits that yes, with the assistance of Kahn and Rosile, he did request refunds totaling $11.4 million for 1996 and 1997 taxes he paid, he never did so with the intent to defraud the IRS. Instead, he claims he was merely following the counsel of his advisers. ”The accountants say you’re entitled to a refund because of these particular rules and regulations,” he says. ”So you say all right…. If someone tells me I’m entitled to a refund, I’ll go for the refund!”
Snipes admits that these refund requests may have been a bit aggressive (they allegedly hinge on a discredited tax-protester gambit called the ”861 argument,” which claims that the domestic income of U.S. citizens is not taxable). But he argues that if the IRS had a problem with the claims, then it was obligated to meet with him if he so desired. He says that he made that request, but the government indicted him instead of granting him the meeting. When contacted to respond for this story, the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment, saying only, ”We will do our talking in the courtroom.”
In the meantime, Snipes remains baffled by the charges, especially since he claims he was never paid the refunds in the first place. ”I never got a dime,” he insists. ”I didn’t defraud the government by taking money that was not mine. We never got it!” …
Still, if Snipes’ strategy next month in court is to blame his advisers, then it raises a question — not a legal one, perhaps, but a commonsense one: Didn’t he think that his accountants’ promises of multimillion-dollar refunds were too good to be true? Snipes laughs at this suggestion. ”Hell yeah, it sounded too good to be true!”
As stated in the white collar crime blog, “A fraudulent scheme does not have to be successful to be a criminal violation, and the fact that the refund was sought, not whether it was paid, can establish the offense.”
So let me get this straight Wesley, you thought it might be too good to be true. O.K. So you took it anyway, got caught in – what the government says was a fraudulent scheme – and think because you didn’t get any direct benefit you should be excused from paying the price for the crime? Creative I admit, but not likely a winning argument.
I would have loved that as a successful argument in my case. Let me be straight in this communication (because I am not proud of my past actions), I embezzled money – on which I should have paid income taxes. By the time the IRS became involved, I had made complete restitution – hence I didn’t get the benefit of the stolen money. Innocent right? Wrong!
Guilty of tax evasion which cost me time in federal prison. Wesley, I truly wish you the best, but would advise a better argument…cause I don’t think this one will hold water.