Hollywood actor Wesley Snipes is set to go on trial today over tax evasion,
citing as his defence a bizarre interpretation of the US tax code that he claims
he was not liable to taxes.
The star earned $38m (£20m) appearing in more than six blockbusters,
including sequel’s to Blade between 1999 and 2004 but paid no tax for those
years, reports suggest.
Snipes is set to go on trial today for unpaid taxes, using the argument that
he is not required to pay taxes.
His argument is based on a federal tax code which does not list wages as
taxable, though it does say that ‘compensation for services’ is taxable.
The federal indictment charged Snipes with fraudulently claiming refunds
totaling almost $12 million in 1996 and 1997 for income taxes already paid.
Snipes was also charged with failure to file returns from 1999 through 2004.
Prosecutors intend to show that Snipes also moved tens of millions of dollars
to offshore accounts and gave the government ‘three worthless cheques’ amounting
to $14m to cover some taxes.
But in court papers the Hollywood star maintains he acted on the advice of
professional tax advisers, who have widely promoted the claim using the 861
code, that there is no requirement to pay taxes.
The advisers, Douglas Rosile – who was stripped of his accounting license in
1997 – and Eddie Kahn – who has served time in prison for tax crimes – will both
appear alongside Snipes.
The actor is to be represented by a controversial US lawyer, Robert Bernhoft,
who was barred by a court order in 1999 from selling a program that suggested
people could legally stop paying taxes.
Snipes is one of several tax deniers who have used the 861 argument, many of
whom have hade their cases rejected by the court on the basis of their theories
that Americans are not obligated to pay income taxes and that the government
extracts taxes from its citizens illegally.
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