Passenger 57 arranges his affairs so as to make taxes as low as possible

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Welcome to the fight, Wesley Snipes! On the iron principle that even inadvertent tax cheats are secret tax rebels, it's clear that the increasingly straight-to-video screen hunk is reviving his star turn as Demolition Man villain Simon Phoenix—the last free man, breaking the law and playing by his own rules. Or more precisely, claiming $12 million in refunds from the Internal Revenue Service in 1996 and 1997, and failing to file tax returns after that.

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The Snipes-as-tax-protestor theory may have more than joke support. Apparently the actor was working with "American Tax Litigators," the nuisance-suit group affiliated with infamous tax skeptic Eddie Kahn. An ATL tax preparer (now in custody), claimed the troubled star of Liberty Stands Still (if only Snipes' commitment to tax freedom were accompanied by support for the right to bear arms!) was entitled to a $7.3 million refund in 1997; using the classic tax-protest argument that only income from foreign sources is taxable, Snipes' income for that year was adjusted down to a cool $0.00. Foolishly, Snipes failed to file returns from 1999 to 2004: His filmography from that period indicates he may have been entitled to some substantial refunds, plus federal emergency relief.

Another plot wrinkle: the Blade star may be on the lam. Authorities don't know where Snipes is, and he has yet to come forward to either the press or the law. "We've spoken to his former attorneys over the weekend," U.S. Attorney Paul I. Perez tells AP. "We presume that he knows, and of course after this press conference he will definitely know."

But will he care? I suspect his supporting role in the new Toussaint L'Ouverture movie has kindled the fire of Snipes' lust for liberty, and he's getting ready to stand or die in the name of maniacal tax-protest theories.

Brian Doherty took a tour through the land of the 16th Amendment rebels a few years back.

NEXT: Who Killed Anna Politkovskaya?

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  1. Authorities don’t know where Snipes is

    Have they checked World of Warcraft?

  2. I can see where this is headed: Badnarik-Snipes ’08!

    Demolition Man villain Simon Phoenix?the last free man, breaking the law and playing by his own rules

    Wasn’t the Dennis Leary character doing the same thing? And without the psycopathic tendencies?

  3. i don’t care what he does that is libertarian in philosophy, wesley snipes blows.

  4. I don’t think tax offenses are generally extraditable, are they? Although, things being what they are, the Feds will likely morph them into “money-laundering.” He’ll be lucky if he isn’t accused of financing terrorism before it’s all over.

  5. If Wesley Snipes is the way we get rid of the income tax, then I’m now a Wesley Snipes fan. In fact, I’ll buy all his DVDs in his honor the first April 15th that I don’t have to file.

  6. I love the term, “tax skeptic.” It makes crazy sound so reasonable. I’m going to jump off a building now, but don’t worry, I’m a gravity skeptic.

  7. “Wasn’t the Dennis Leary character doing the same thing? And without the psycopathic tendencies?”

    I think there was something about nudity and green jelly, but yeah, other than that he was pretty sane.

  8. Passenger 57 fails to read section 61 of the tax code, choosing to focus only on the “foreign income sources” of section 1441, and thus gets 86’d. Film at 11.

  9. The way I see it, Wesley’s still fighting vampires.

  10. If Snipes is hiding in Afganistan they’ll never find him.

  11. I knew about the $0 Income returns. I didn’t know about all the other stuff since then.

    He makes most off his movies “overseas” I think. And as long as he has his Total Gym in his luggage, he might not have any reason to come back.

    If he does he might meet the same fate as Ronald Isley.

  12. he could do an awesome Kung Fu style TV series about a lone man trying to escape his past, doing small good deeds wherever he goes, like offering unsolicited financial advice, and getting his ass kicked in a white castle for refusing to pay sales tax.

    someone come up with the opening montage…

    snatch the 1040 from my hand, grasshopper

    JG

  13. Kirk “Sticky” Jones was a better Blade too.

  14. I have advice for Mr. Snipes:

    As a celebrity you can get away with a lot these days, just don’t mess with the tax man.

  15. I love the term, “tax skeptic.” It makes crazy sound so reasonable. I’m going to jump off a building now, but don’t worry, I’m a gravity skeptic.

    Why do you insinuate that being skeptical on the validity and morality of having to pay taxes is the same as being “crazy”??? Being against institutionalized THEFT is being crazy? Seems a bit Stalinist in my view . . .

  16. Perhaps exposure to a sufficient intensity of ultraviolet light disintegrates pesky IRS auditors?

  17. “Why do you insinuate that being skeptical on the validity and morality of having to pay taxes is the same as being “crazy”??? Being against institutionalized THEFT is being crazy? Seems a bit Stalinist in my view . . .”

    Look, just hand me the mimeographed, double-sided, handwritten page with no margins, and let me walk to my office, ok?

  18. You people are forgetting something: ALWAYS BET ON BLACK!

  19. I think there’s a moral obligation to cheat the feds out of as many tax dollars as possible. Giving the federal govt money is like giving a violent drunk a gun, your car keys, and 12-pack.

    I’ll admit that given my current income, income taxes are a rather academic concern for me. But soon when I join the other PhDs, MA, JDs, etc., behind the Starbucks counter, I’m going to take some of that tip jar money home and the IRS will never know. Just stickin it to the Man, the only way I can.

  20. It’s kind of pathetic watching people to expect the government to follow rules.

    So long as most Americans consent to allowing taxes to be deducted from their payroll, the system will be found to be “constitutional.”

    If a significant portion of the population refuses to pay, then the system will collapse and be discarded.

    But there is no way that government officials will walk away from that much green because someone points out that they’re not permitted to take it in some rule book.

    Members of organised crime rackets never walk away from money if they can help it.

  21. “As a celebrity you can get away with a lot these days, just don’t mess with the tax man.”

    Depending on which news story you read, he’s facing anywhere from “up to 12 years” to “up to 40 years” in prison. My guess is his actual sentence will be considerably less.

  22. Mike Tyson served three years for rape. I think he was sentenced to seven years. So evading taxes is worse than rape.

  23. I think the IRS are racists. They seem to always single out black celebrities to go after for tax issues.

    And no, I am not joking or being smart. It really does seem that the IRS are racist. Do a google search for celebrities punished for tax issues, and tell me that blacks don’t seem to be disproportionatly represented.

  24. joe and Buckshot are tied for victory in this thread.

  25. I think the IRS are racists. They seem to always single out black celebrities to go after for tax issues. … And no, I am not joking or being smart. It really does seem that the IRS are racist. Do a google search for celebrities punished for tax issues, and tell me that blacks don’t seem to be disproportionatly represented.

    &#9786: “As an IRS auditor, I feel it is my duty to stomp on darkies when they become too uppity, lest they become so emboldened as to start dating our women.”

    &#9787: “Lawsamercy!”

  26. I’ve seen a lot of tax protestors over the years. Most of them are like Brian–very noisy, but they have little or no income, so the IRS ignores them (actually, I’ve seen an inverse correlation between income and vociferousness of tax protestors). Every once in a while, though, someone with a lot of money buys into the program, to their eventual sorrow.

    As for the possibility of organized tax protests, the closest we came to that in the modern era was in Michigan in the early 1980’s, when auto workers decided to claim 100 allowances on their W-4’s, so no income tax was being withheld. Reasonoids should note that Ron Paul publicly supported this effort, in effect endorsing mass perjury, which shows that a congressman can get away with just about anything. Shortly thereafter, Congress passed laws shutting down this technique by increasing the burden on employers to report anyone claiming a suspicious number of withholding allowances.

    If you are going to be a tax protestor, I suggest that you take a cue from Grover Norquist, who is working within the system to destroy it.

  27. Grover Norquist is just another GOP butt boy

  28. Guess the next “Blade” movie will be filmed on Grand Cayman Island.

  29. I read somewhere years ago that Murry Rothbard convinced Karl Hess (one of my TRUE libertarian heroes) not to file/pay his income tax and the IRS made his life hell from that point on.

  30. Ah, the libertarian world of Something for Nothing…yes, we’d all like the benefits of living in a functional civilization without having to pay for them, but most of us learned as children that sometimes life requires you to obey rules that you’d rather not.

    As for Snipes, a few years in the slammer might teach him that he can pay his fair share like the rest of us. (Not the the rich pay their fair share, but that’s another topic…)

  31. I’m Sorry,

    Willie Nelson is black? Wow, didn’t see that one.

  32. I daresay that “fair share” for the various levels of government combined is something less than 50%.

  33. I daresay that “fair share” for the various levels of government combined is something less than 50%.

    Why? Should we base tax policy on whatever percentage arbitarily seems like it should be correct?

  34. Heck no! Take 100%! What the heck do I need the money for? I’d probably waste it on consumer goods, anyway.

  35. Until the IRS wakes up in the morning and comes to the office with me they don’t deserve an equal share.

    Are you suggesting taxation should hold no relationship to fairness or equity?

  36. I think DanT is on to something. Just give %100 of your pay to the government and they can take care of all your needs. Brilliant!

  37. Are you suggesting taxation should hold no relationship to fairness or equity?

    I don’t think fairness should be totally disregarded (for example, it is unfair that I pay taxes but Wesley Snipes does not) but since fairness is such a subjective notion I don’t think it should be the cornerstone of our tax policy.

    Rather, it should be mostly based on what amount of taxation creates the best overall results for our society. If a system where everybody pays 99% of their income leads to the optimum results (not that I’m saying that’s actually the case, of course), then that’s what we should do.

  38. Yet another bunch of Libertarians arguing Tax is Theft. No wonder you’re not considered seriously.

    As I’ve said it before, as long as you reside in anything outside of complete anarchy, you will be paying taxes. Either to the government, or protection money to the Mafia. Take your pick.

  39. Which libertarians here said that we should have no taxes at all? I think it’s the size of the taxes, the methods of collection, and the way the taxes are spent that galls us. Always excepting the anarcho-libertarian-fascists among us 🙂

  40. So, grumpy, there is no reason to argue about either the amount of taxes or how they are levied? You’re going to take it up the ass from somebody, so you might as well drop trou, bend over, and enjoy it?

  41. grumpyrealist: “Either [pay taxes] to the government or the Mafia. Take your pick.”

    Freedom of choice, finally. That’s your libertarian streak comming through, grump. Compared to the IRS, the Mafia might be a better deal.

    Whenever someone say’s, “My taxes are too high and I don’t like it”, You say we’re a bunch of libertarian deadbeats who want a free ride. Like Nathaniel Branden say’s, “Take what you want and pay for it”. I want to pay for police and emergency services, etc, the necessary things government is supposed to do, which doesn’t take the confiscatory tax rates I’m being charged. Our taxes are too high because the government is in the personal-problem solving business, which I don’t want to pay for, but I don’t have an option because the government doesn’t give options, they just give you the bill.

    Third time: Do you think we’re over taxed?

  42. Yeah, but Grover Norquist is our GOP butt boy.

  43. What I’m saying is that if you want services and infrastructure, you are going to have to pay for them, somewhere, somehow. Pretending you don’t is just stupid. I favor taxes that are directly related to what they are used on (gas taxes for roads, etc.) and think as much should be as devolved down to the states as possible and gotten away from the Federal gov’t. I want to see a drastic cutting of federal taxation and a raise in state taxation, mainly because the $$$ that is raised is spent relatively locally and I think there’s a cycle-response.

    The other thing I would do is insist upon a balanced budget. No more of this “cut taxes, we’ll make up the difference by borrowing from China.”

    I’d love to see what would happen if we could all set the taxation levels at what we feel “reasonable” and earmark our payments for the programs we wanted. The government would have to live with whatever we came up with–no shifting between agencies!

    Actually, the government DOES give you options, it’s called the vote. The reason we’ve got the taxes we do is we have the programs we do. (In fact, we’re not even paying for the programs we have.) Those gov’t programs are put into place by people we elect. I realize it is a very tedious, round-about way, but you DO have influence. Write letters to your congresscritter. Get a critical mass of the population together ready to cut out some of the programs in exchange for lower taxes, because I’m sick and tired of our “cutting taxes!” but not cutting expenses and sticking the difference on the Chinese credit card.

    If I had my druthers I’d chop the military budget by 3/4 if not more. Dept. of Education seems particularly dysfunctional–they’re a good candidate for chopping. Ag supports? Those aren’t going to come down until we convince the EU etc. to drop their own price supports. If you don’t want price supports you’re going to have to find another way of helping agricultural sectors to hedge against bad weather and unpredictability in commodity prices, let alone fuel and fertilizer prices.

  44. Grump, that was a very interesting and informative comment, you answered my question and I appreciate it.

    The problem with “gas taxes for roads, etc” is that the taxes collected seem to get rerouted to things other than what they were originally intended for. I agree, that’s the way it should be done, but the administrators will try to cheat no matter how the rules are set up.

    My option to vote? Too many of my fellow citizens will vote for more subsidies and handouts, they don’t share my (or your) view of responsible, limited government. I want a system where people can’t vote away my money or rights, but I’m enough of a grumpy realist myself to know that will never happen.

    Bitching about taxes is my American birthright, this country got started because of free people being angry about their tax burden. When you stop hearing us piss, moan and groan about our taxes, you’ll know the American spirit is dead.

  45. The IRS has a full reufutation of most of the tax skeptic arguments here:
    http://www.irs.gov/taxpros/art…..32,00.html

    Tax law is complex, we are charged too much in taxes, and it is spent wastefully, I agree. Nevertheless, we will have to pay taxes and follow the laws until congress changes ’em.

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