Sunday, February 03, 2008

Wesley Snipes: Dunce or Anti-Government Extremist?

Actor Wesley Snipes was convicted on three of six tax-evasion charges, but cleared on the the other three. More importantly -- at least to Snipes -- he was cleared also on felony fraud and conspiracy charges.

Snipes, who had struck me as a reasonably intelligent man,
...had become an unlikely public face for the tax denier movement, whose members maintain that Americans are not obligated to pay income taxes and that the government extracts taxes from its citizens illegally.

The tax denier movement is affiliated (to various degrees) with some other less-than-mainstream movements:
  • "Sovereign Citizen" - a bunch of right-wing anarchist loons who believe virtually all government entities (especially Federal, and most especially the IRS and ATF) are illegitimate and illegal. They grew out of the Posse Comitatus crowd in the 1970's.
  • "Christian Identity" - a pseudo-religious group claiming that (a) Aryan races (Germans, Scandanavians, and Anglo-Saxons) are the true descendents of the ancient Israelites, and (b) Jews are descendents of Satan. The Christian Identity crowd -- to which presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee has ties -- leaven their beliefs with healthy doses of homophobia and sexism. Christian Identity also has ties to Dominionism, which has many hidden representatives throughout the Cheney/bush regime. (Kos diarist Dogemperor is a survivor of this pernicious belief system).
  • The Militia Movement - right-wing extremist paramilitary groups, many of which sprouted up after the FBI/Branch Davidian stand-off in Waco, Texas.
  • "Redemptionists" - yet another collection of anti-government loonies, this time using bogus money orders, fraudulent liens, the Uniform Commercial Code, and other schemes to "protest" an "illegitmate" government. Recently, one Redemptionist claimed to be a Foreclosure Specialist; he used bogus money orders to "pay off" delinquent mortgages. He was convicted of issuing false government financial instruments. Redemptionists are an off-shoot of the Sovereign Citizen crowd.

Okay, Wesley Snipes is probably not one of the gun-toting good ole boys we've come to expect from the right-wing wacko brigade. For one thing, of course, he's black, and most of the righties would rather have Hillary Clinton in the White House than associate with a "n***er."

Snipes, who now has to pay $17 million in back taxes (plus interest and peanlties, of course), used some of the standard tax-denier arguments (most of which have been tried and found wanting many, many times):

  • He did not file returns or pay taxes in 2002-2004 because he had been informed he was the target of a criminal investigation, and filing returns would have incriminated him; [the jury accepted this argument, as have a couple of other juries in recent years. It does make sense, of course]
  • He was "not required" to pay taxes because he was legally a "nontaxpayer"; the laws did not apply to him because he was not a resident of the District of Columibia, was not a Federal employee, and was not engaged in any trade or business;
  • He claimed that the IRS' own code meant income earned in this country wasn't taxable, and that the IRS itself was not a proper government agency;
  • He claimed to be a "nonresident alien," and hence exempt from all tax laws.

The Smoking Gun has copies of Snipes' tax forms (for 1997; they still show no taxable income, although Snipes lists an adjusted gross income of $19,238,192). The file also contains copies of some of the boilerplate pseudo-legalistic twaddle the tax protesters try to peddle. Although it is hard to see in the TSG image, Snipes' 1040X had been altered to read, "Under no penalties of perjury, I declare..." [emphasis added].

Snipes' co-defendants -- Eddie Ray Kahn and Douglas Rosile -- were convicted on the felony charges. Kahn, a long-time hero in the tax denier movement, fled to Panama after being indicted. He was extradited but refused to attend the proceedings, claiming the court had no jurisdiction over him.

The website Quatloos!, operated by Financial & Tax Fraud Education Associates, Inc, has this to say about Eddie Kahn:

Eddie Kahn of “American Rights Litigators” represents the Hee-Haw contingent of the tax protestor movement. “Without any doubt, the most stupid of all the ‘professional’ tax protesters. Mr. Kahn's ‘arguments’ are so utterly juvenile and worthless as to barely worth the space I am using to type this sentence.”

Yup, just exactly the type of person I'd want for a tax advisor.

Rosile, the other idiot in this trek to Loontown, is a former accountant whose licenses to practice were yanked in at least two states. According to a 2002 New York Times article,

Mr. Rosile's accounting license has been revoked in Ohio and Florida, and he has been barred for life from practicing before the Securities and Exchange Commission, which found in 1995 that he had prepared false financial statements for a publicly traded company.

Rosile has been a thorn in the side of governmental regulators for years. In 1995, the Accountancy Board of Ohio discussed Rosile's competence as an accountant:

Mr. Rosile admitted that he was not familiar with either the professional accounting standards promulgated by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), or the specific requirements of the SEC.... No review was performed concerning the integrity of management prior to accepting the audit.... No direct confirmation of Standard's cash was ever made by Mr. Rosile. No work was performed concerning either accounts receivable or accounts payable.... No federal or state tax returns, payroll records, royalty records, or stock transfer records were reviewed by Mr. Rosile.... It was clear from the SEC transcript that Mr. Rosile does not understand the definition of certain accounting terms such as valuation account.... Mr. Rosile does not understand the definition of "going concern."...

One could ask how, if Rosile is as ignorant of Generally Accepted Accounting Practices as he appears, did he manage to pass the CPA exam in not one, but two, states?

Perhaps the courts should appoint a legal guardian for Mr Snipes. He sure doesn't seem to be doing too good a job taking care of himself.

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