Convicted tax offender and actor Wesley Snipes was released from federal prison in a blaze of press just before the tax return filing deadline this year. As you may remember, the "Blade"trilogy actor was charged with tax evasion in 2008. According to reports, Snipes had failed to pay income taxes between 1999 and 2006, during which period he earned an estimated $38 million.
Snipes was convicted of deliberately failing to file federal tax returns and sentenced to three years in prison even though these were misdemeanor charges. His legal team appealed his sentence to the Supreme Court on grounds that his sentence was 'too harsh' a penalty for the crime. However, the Court refused to hear the matter and the sentence stood. Now that Snipes has been released from prison, he will serve the rest of his four months under house arrest.
The Snipes case serves to remind us that 1) people, even the wealthy and celebrities, go to prison for tax crimes, and 2) getting caught up with the wrong crowd is no defense - as here, Snipes' original defense was that he was relying on his accountant's advice.
If you stand accused of any tax problems domestically or internationally, an experienced tax attorney may be your most valuable asset. These professionals have an extensive knowledge of federal and state tax law, and can fight to ensure that your rights are not infringed upon by a government body. Further, the tax fines, penalties and interest that tax problems can create can seem overwhelming. A tax attorney and tax professionals can advise you on the best strategy for you. Visit the Moskowitz LLP website for more information on how a tax attorney can help.
Disclaimer: Because of the generality of this blog post, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Furthermore, in accordance with Treasury Regulation Circular 230, we inform you that any tax advice contained in this communication was not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purposes of (i) avoiding tax related penalties under the Internal Revenue Code, or (ii.) promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any tax related matter addressed herein.
The Internal Revenue Service will be providing new guidelines to the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) which address such issues as the number of years at issue (there has been much debate amongst tax attorneys as to whether it is 3, 6, 8, or more). We also expect it to address issues facing taxpayers who may not have been the intended targets of the program.
We will keep you posted.