the beginning of April, Wesley Snipes was released from federal prison
after serving three years behind bars after convictions on three
misdemeanor counts of failing to file tax returns. From 1999-2001 Snipes
avoided paying $7 million dollars worth of taxes. As a recent article in Forbes Magazine pointed out, his trial and its outcome revealed some important lessons.
Don’t claim that paying taxes is voluntary. If you earn income in this country, paying taxes is required. There isn’t a logical way to prove otherwise.
Niche explanations of income don’t work.
The IRS has clear definitions of what constitutes income. Wages, tips,
barter transactions, and Federal Reserve Notes are all forms of income.
Claiming they’re not will only lead to headaches.
Don’t try to argue that terms in the tax code mean something other than their intended meaning.
It’s a bad idea to argue that a “taxpayer” as referred to in the U.S.
tax code isn’t a citizen and thus exempt from the tax code, that the
U.S. consists of only the District of Columbia, federal territories, and
federal enclaves, or that federal employees aren’t subject to income
The Constitution does not protect you from paying taxes.
Not a single constitutional amendment can be claimed in an attempt to
skirt around paying federal taxes. Religious or moral grounds cannot be
cited as an excuse. Involuntary servitude is not the same as being made
to pay taxes. Paying taxes is not equal to having your property taken
without the due process of law.
Fictitious legal theories are just that, fictitious.
Claiming you’re a church and exempt from federal taxes seems
ridiculous, but it’s been claimed by several. Asserting the IRS is not
an agency of the US government has also been tried. The federal court
system takes regular action against individuals claiming tax exemption
based on bogus legal theories.
Be careful who you trust.
In the case of Wesley Snipes, he followed the lead of a bad advisors,
both of whom went to jail along with him. Be careful who you believe
when it comes to reducing your tax burden.
The above didn’t work for a Hollywood superstar, and they won’t work for anyone else.