DOCUMENT: Celebrity, Crime

Wesley Snipes In Bizarre Tax Scheme

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Wesley Snipes In Bizarre Tax Scheme

According to the Department of Justice, aggressive tax avoidance plots are on the rise nationwide--and they're not limited to Posse Comitatus members and kooks living in Idaho shacks. Turns out there are many wealthy Americans who believe that income tax is voluntary or that the government does not have the right to tax citizens.

Another popular tax evasion scheme--involving the claim that tax is only owed if income is derived from a foreign corporation--was cited by actor Wesley Snipes in a bizarre bid to secure an unwarranted $7.4 million tax refund, according to documents filed Tuesday (5/21) in federal court in Tampa, Florida.

In support of a motion for a restraining order against outlaw tax preparer Douglas Rosile, government lawyers filed a copy of an amended 1997 tax return submitted last year by Snipes, a Rosile client. The amended return, which Justice Department lawyers called the "largest Rosile-prepared bogus refund claim that the IRS has detected," reduced Snipes's adjusted gross income from $19,238,192 to zero. As such, Snipes contended, he was entitled to a $7,360,755 refund.

Attached to Snipes's amended return was an attachment--prepared by Rosile--explaining that the refund was warranted because the actor's income was supposedly "not from a taxable source." Snipes's amended return, signed by the actor on April 11, 2001, also included a slightly altered affirmation next to his signature noting that the return was filed "Under no penalties of perjury."

It is unclear what, if any, sanctions have been brought (or are being considered) against Snipes for his role in this scam. (6 pages)