Paul L. Caron

Monday, January 14, 2008

Wesley Snipes Tax Fraud Trial Begins Today

Actor Wesley Snipes' tax fraud trial begins today in Ocala, FL.  Ellen Podgor (Stetson) of our sister White Collar Crime Prof Blog has a roundup of the issues in the case.  For press and blogosphere coverage, see:

For prior TaxProf Blog coverage, see below the fold:

Celebrity Tax Lore | Permalink

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» SNIPES TRIAL OPENS TODAY from Roth & Company, P.C.
The Wesley Snipes tax evasion trial gets underway today in Ocala, Florida. The TaxProf's roundup of big media coverage is... [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 14, 2008 6:37:41 AM

» Wesley gets his day in tax court from Don't Mess With Taxes
It's finally showdown time for Wesley Snipes, star of the vampire film series Blade, who in real life is facing off against the IRS. As blogged about previously (here, here and here), Snipes is charged with conspiracy to defraud the government, filing ... [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 14, 2008 8:27:48 AM


Try this on for size, being "Blade" must have dulled his senses, because Mr. Snipes ignored the advice of his former tax adviser, Kenneth Starr, when electing not to file tax returns. Somehow I thought Wesley was smarter than what I'm seeing from his trial in Ocala, Florida.

In the trial his former tax adviser, Kenneth Starr, head of Starr and Company, testified that he had a 90-minute telephone conversation with Snipes trying to convince him that he had to pay taxes.

The Orlando Sentinel reports:

"(Snipes) was adamant about the fact that he did not have that obligation," Starr said. "I said that was ridiculous; that everyone has that obligation. He said he had spoken to some people that said he didn't have to."

Starr, who regularly represents celebrities, said he and Snipes had a good relationship before the actor stopped believing in taxes. "He said, 'You always think you're right and you always think you know everything. You're not right about this,"' Starr recalled of his pivotal 2000 phone call with Snipes.

The next day, Starr sent a letter terminating his tax services with the actor.

Snipes' defense said Starr never told the actor in writing it would be illegal to stop paying taxes. Starr said he didn't have to; he told Snipes on the phone and needed nothing further to terminate their tax arrangement.

The simple challenge here for proof of guilt or innocence (at least in the mind of the jury) is - did Wesley Snipes know what he was doing when he refused to file and pay his taxes. Looks like, at least from what has been seen thus far, the answer is a resounding - YES!

I can understand the possibility of falling prey to bad advice (and Eddie Kahn gives BAD ADVICE) but when you couple that with the advice from your former tax adviser who testified that he advised you not to follow Kahn...well, Wesley - gotta say it doesn't look good for the home team here.

Some call it "Club Fed." Let me state from personal experience - it is FED - it is NO CLUB. Prison is not fun and I would wish no one that experience. But, having been there and hence speaking from experience, since every choice has a consequence - it is important to be conscious of the choices we make as each will produce results - bad choices yield negative consequences - good choices yield positive results.

I wish the best for Wesley, but would be shocked if he is not convicted of tax fraud.

Posted by: Chuck Gallagher | Jan 19, 2008 8:08:57 AM