<$BlogRSDUrl$>

Friday, April 25, 2008

Wesley Snipes got off easy 


Actor Wesley Snipes has not filed a tax return for ten years thereby evading tens of millions of dollars in federal income tax. Now he has been sentenced to jail for three years, which strikes me as a light sentence under the circumstances.

The interesting thing is that the flower and chivalry of Hollywood turned out en masse to appeal to the judge to grant Snipes leniency.

His lawyers said he was no threat to society, and offered three dozen letters from family members, friends and even fellow actors Woody Harrelson and Denzel Washington attesting to his compassion, intelligence and value as a mentor.

Both Denzel Washington and Woody Harrelson are left-wing. Washington contributed the max to Barack Obama, and Harrelson is a lefty activist with no end of weird ideas. Washington, at least, supports a presidential candidate who has vowed to raise his own taxes and those of Wesley Snipes. It fascinates me, therefore, that these and other almost certainly "progressive" Hollywood types publicly argue for leniency for a rich man who evaded his taxes.

And for my fellow libertarian conservatives who are offended, I offer the friendly reminder that Pete Rose served five months in federal prison for defaulting on approximately 2% of the taxes and penalties owed by Wesley Snipes. Considering that federal sentencing guidelines -- which law-and-order conservatives loudly champion as the remedy for "soft judges" -- for other white collar offenses have massively increased jail time for purely monetary crimes (many of which have much more ambiguous evidentiary and legal standards than rank tax evasion), three years seems incredibly light. If Snipes had been a corporate executive he would be looking at ten years or more.

Now, if you want to argue that we have gone completely overboard in white-collar sentencing I would agree with you, but given the dollars involved Snipes got off with an easy sentence compared to the standards applied to corporate executives and even other tax-evaders.

32 Comments:

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Apr 25, 09:18:00 AM:

Snipes is a sh*tty actor and criminal. He deserves the long arm of the law, and to be held accountable to all interest, penalties and taxes he attempted to defraud us out of. Likewise, his accountants and lawyers should swing for their involvement, certainly the tax preparer.

By any reasonable person's accounting, Snipes is a very wealthy person, at least on earnings. He played and lost. As I guy who has never cheated on his taxes, I'm really offended by clowns like this. Snipes' earnings must be in the .01% of all returns (had he filed them), so even the leftest lefty shouldn't try to defend this guy. So strike the intelligence argument.

And, Harrelson is hardly the character witness I'd call in my defense.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Apr 25, 09:19:00 AM:

I haven't followed this at all so I don't know. My question is, doesn't he owe back taxes, interest and penalties as well? 3years does indeed seem light if they are not going to take his money as well.  

By Blogger Constitution Cowboy, at Fri Apr 25, 10:03:00 AM:

"Getting off easy" is rather toung-in-cheek when you realize the Union does not have the power to punish anyone who does not pay taxes. The only power to punish granted to Congress(and therefore, the Union) is for counterfiting money and for treason.

Congress has all the power it needs to collect taxes, but the power to collect does not include punish.

Woody

"Look at your rights and freedoms as what would be required to survive and be free as if there were no government. Governments come and go, but your rights live on. If you wish to survive government, you must protect with jealous resolve all the powers that come with your rights - especially with the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Without the power of those arms, you will perish with that government - or at its hand." B.E. Wood  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Apr 25, 10:05:00 AM:

Yea, but the dude can Jump!  

By Anonymous Timothy Burton, at Fri Apr 25, 10:14:00 AM:

I thought Harry Reid said that taxes were “voluntary”? I’m confused. Can anyone help explain why someone who refuses to voluntarily give taxes can be jailed for not doing something that isn’t required by law?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Apr 25, 10:43:00 AM:

Snipes stated that he was above paying taxes, so I am glad he was given the max. I want people to know that while Denzel Washington might be overly excited about Obama and have a few lefty ideas, he paid for a rehab home for injured soldiers. I'm not just parroting a story, as I was injured in Iraq, and spent almost two years at walter reed, when he paid for the rehab home. He might get it wrong politically, but he is a true patriot--Sgt Smith  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Apr 25, 10:53:00 AM:

""Getting off easy" is rather toung-in-cheek when you realize the Union does not have the power to punish anyone who does not pay taxes. The only power to punish granted to Congress(and therefore, the Union) is for counterfiting money and for treason.

Congress has all the power it needs to collect taxes, but the power to collect does not include punish.

Woody"

Is that you and one of your kooky ideas, Mr. Harrelson?

-----------

Great point about the hypocrisy of leftists rushing to defend tax evaders.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Fri Apr 25, 11:53:00 AM:

So you mean to tell me that every single federal crime passed by Congress isn't really a federal crime? Someone should tell the FBI...  

By OpenID HenryBowman, at Fri Apr 25, 12:40:00 PM:

Snipes did not file his tax returns. Had he filed returns, but not paid taxes, he might have had a case. The law requires one to file a return. The supposed "voluntary" part is actually paying the tax. In reality, the Federal judges will throw you in jail, no matter what the law actually says.  

By Blogger Xanthippas, at Fri Apr 25, 12:56:00 PM:

Thanks for providing stats on the typical sentence for tax crimes of this nature to support your point. Oh wait, you didn't. But you did take a shot at "left wing" members of Hollywood, so I guess that's good enough.  

By Blogger Constitution Cowboy, at Fri Apr 25, 01:48:00 PM:

Hey Mr. Anonymous at 10:53 AM:

Can you show me where in the Constitution it says anything different?

Woody (Not Harrelson)

Our government was designed by our Founding Fathers to fit within the framework of our rights and not vise versa. Any other "interpretation" of the Constitution is either through ignorance or is deliberately subversive. B.E. Wood  

By Blogger Patrick, at Fri Apr 25, 02:29:00 PM:

Congress has all the power it needs to collect taxes, but the power to collect does not include punish.

Congress has the power to enact laws and assign penalties to the breaking of said laws. Are you arguing that the federal government doesn't have the power to punish anyone who breaks a law that isn't specifically addressed in the Constitution?  

By Blogger Constitution Cowboy, at Fri Apr 25, 04:57:00 PM:

From Patrick:

"Congress has the power to enact laws and assign penalties to the breaking of said laws. Are you arguing that the federal government doesn't have the power to punish anyone who breaks a law that isn't specifically addressed in the Constitution?"

Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying. Can you show me any different?

Woody  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Apr 25, 05:03:00 PM:

Oh please Woody, this issue was settled during the Presidency of George Washington for crying out loud. The argument is over, and your side lost. Let's not be foolish.

Andrew  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Apr 25, 05:08:00 PM:

I should have quoted the pertinent part from Hamilton's essay, rather than actually ask people to read the whole thing. So, for those who don't like to read political history, here's a golden nugget from the pen of Mr. Hamilton:

"Now it appears to the Secretary of the Treasury that this general principle is inherent in the very definition of government, and essential to every step of progress to be made by that of the United States, namely: That every power vested in a government is in its nature sovereign, and includes, by force of the term, a right to employ all the means requisite and fairly applicable to the attainment of the ends of such power, and which are not precluded by restrictions and exceptions specified in the Constitution, or not immoral, or not contrary to the essential ends of political society.

This principle, in its application to government in general, would be admitted as an axiom; and it will be incumbent upon those who may incline to deny it, to prove a distinction, and to show that a rule which, in the general system of things, is essential to the preservation of the social order, is inapplicable to the United States."


Andrew  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Apr 25, 05:27:00 PM:

Any thread about taxes always brings out the Constitutionally challenged nut cases who plop down in the conversation like gangrene. Snipes did get off easy. He had already been acquitted of fraud and conspiracy charges which could have put him away for far longer than three years. And his co-defendants in Florida were unrepentant tax avoiders which makes one ponder why a guy who makes millions per movie and can hire the best accountants and lawyers in North America gets hooked up with two losers from south Florida.

ZHOMBRE  

By Blogger ScurvyOaks, at Fri Apr 25, 05:36:00 PM:

Woody, if I knew your name and address, I'd suggest to your local district director of Internal Revenue that you might be a worthwhile candidate for an examination.

People who do not pay the taxes they plainly owe are unpatriotic and selfish. Not to mention immature little shirking shits, who increase the burden on those of us who do pay taxes. I think Snipes deserved more time in jail than he got.

By the way, I'm a lawyer who represents taxpayers in planning transactions and in controversies with the Internal Revenue Service. There's all the difference in the world between (i) fair planning and fair fights on the field of tax-law play and (ii) the Leona Helmsley-Wesley Snipes-tax protestor bullshit.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Apr 25, 06:49:00 PM:

Constitution Cowboy got owned good. Glad to see these Ron Paul nutjobs getting their retarded arguments shot down.  

By Blogger Constitution Cowboy, at Fri Apr 25, 08:35:00 PM:

Y'all keep firing away, but not one of you has shown me where Congress has the power to proscribe punishment for not paying a tax.

I agree that those who do not pay their taxes cause extra burden on the rest of us. I would think that with all the power Congress has to collect a tax, forcefully collecting the tax from a delinquent would be enough of a detriment to the person who owes the tax and to anyone else looking on thinking they can get away with not paying tax - or not filing a return.

Congress has shot itself in the foot with the laws it has passed to lock up delinquent tax payers...Especially someone like Westly Snipes. That's three years of income Snipes would have earned that could have been taxed, gone down the drain, that the rest of us will have to make up.

Oh, and ScurvyOaks, you forgot to mention the Browns as well.

Andrew:

I guess Hamilton must have made the quote you posted before the Tenth Amendment was ratified. The Union only gets those powers enumerated in the Constitution and has no other source of power to be restricted or excepted - except, of course, for the power it usurps.

So, naysayers, carry on and demean, insult, assume, and dissemble all you wish. All you are doing is exposing your misology.

Prove me wrong. Show me in the Constitution where the Union has power to proscribe punishment for not paying a tax.

Article I, Section 8, Clause 6, grants power to Congress to provide for the punisment of counterfiting; Clause 10, grants power to Congress to define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas and against the laws of nations; and Article III, Section 3, Clause 2, grants power to Congress for it to declare the punishment of treason.

With these specific grants of power to punish in specific areas, it is a usurpation of power and a total disregard of the Tenth Amendment for Congress to proscribe or provide for punishment in any other area, for those other areas are reserved to the states or to the people.

Woody  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Fri Apr 25, 09:17:00 PM:

http://americanhistory.about.com/od/usconstitution/f/elastic.htm

Seriously, I learned about this in High School. A public High School. A rural public High School.  

By Blogger Constitution Cowboy, at Fri Apr 25, 09:47:00 PM:

Providing for or proscribing punishment for not paying a tax is not one of the foregoing powers or any of the other powers vested by the Constitution in the government of the Union, or in any department or officer thereof.

Woody  

By Anonymous tyree, at Fri Apr 25, 11:06:00 PM:

If the next amnesty bill for illegal immigrants gives them income tax amnesty, like the last one did, a number of us will be quite upset.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Apr 25, 11:40:00 PM:

Federal penitentiaries are lousy with fools who decided that the government has no right to punish them for not paying taxes. Now there's one more dude who's going to wish he hadn't clenched his wallet so hard as he'll be clenching his butt-cheeks when he drops the soap. Snipe hunt, indeed.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Apr 26, 12:53:00 AM:

So Woody is a little wacky. Whadda ya expect, he is an actor and his father (a contract killer by profession) is doing life for murder.) Snipes is his buddy.
I must say, last night as I was clicking through the dial, I came across and watched "White Men Can't Dance".I got a few chuckles out of the flick and liked Snipes character, which has left me kindly disposed towards him, despite my usual enmity tomard rich tax dodgers.
That's how it goes. And, by the way, how often do big-time tax evaders get three years in the slammer?
Michael  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Apr 26, 01:28:00 AM:

Woody, Article I, Section 8, Clause 18 gives Congress the power "to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying out the execution of the forgoing powers (in Article I Section 8) and all other powers vested in it by this Constitution" These constitutional powers include the power to collect an income tax, and the "necessary and proper" clause gives Congress the power to enforce its powers, including though criminal sanctions. The 10th Amendment did NOT overturn the necessary and proper clause of the Constitution and there is nothing in the 10th Amendment to indicate that it is intended to remove all power from Congress which the Constitution had just granted it a few years earlier.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Apr 26, 04:25:00 AM:

ah hell, Woody's just trolling. A quick Wiki came up with the Article 1 stuff, right?

I just saw a total gym commercial, the old one with Chuck Norris sounding like a sissy, and Wesley Snipes doing the bit about how quick and easy it is, and how it works the traps/obliques and tris. Well, wonder if they have one of those in the klink, and wonder how many dollars in income tax he saved ... hell, wonder what he spend the bucks on, and if he really thought he could get over on paying taxes?  

By Blogger Constitution Cowboy, at Sat Apr 26, 09:29:00 PM:

From Anontmous at 12:53:

"Woody, Article I, Section 8, Clause 18 gives Congress the power "to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying out the execution of the forgoing powers (in Article I Section 8) and all other powers vested in it by this Constitution" These constitutional powers include the power to collect an income tax, and the "necessary and proper" clause gives Congress the power to enforce its powers, including though criminal sanctions. The 10th Amendment did NOT overturn the necessary and proper clause of the Constitution and there is nothing in the 10th Amendment to indicate that it is intended to remove all power from Congress which the Constitution had just granted it a few years earlier."

Several things wrong here. First, A I,S 8, C 18, gives Congress power - not the power. Second, the power granted is to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution - not carrying out the execution...

This power to make law to carry into execution is only for the foregoing and other specific powers elswhere in the Constitution granted to any department or officer in the government of the Union. Changing the wording in the Constitution - like replacing "To provide for the punishment of..." as found in A I, S 8, C 6, with "criminal sanctions" and applying it to a clause that doesn't include "To provide for the punishment of...", is interpolation piled upon malapropism.

Amendment Ten did not overturn the necessary and proper clause but it certainly did explicitly itterate the limits of the Necessary and Proper clause as well as any other grant of power the Constitution grants to Congress. The Tenth Amendment is about stopping the misconstrual of what is in the Constitution in efforts to usurp power and expand the federal government into the realm of the powers of the several states and to halt impinging and infringing upon our rights. The Tenth Amendment in no way interfears with any legitimate power of Congress.

Another misconstrual of the powers granted to Congress is exempified by your statement that the Necessary and Proper clause gives power to Congress to enforce its powers. Congress doesn't enforce its powers, it executes them(Creates the legitimate, necessary, and proper laws). It has power to provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws it legitimately creates in A I, S 8, C 15.(Example: The Whiskey Rebellion) The Executive branch(the President) enforces the laws of the Union when Congress calls forth the militia to that end.

The difference is the difference between "execute" and "enforce".

execute: to carry out, put into effect; ... ; to make legally valid; ...

From Johnson's 1755 dictionary:

1. To perform; to practice.
2. To put in act; to do what is planned or determined.
3. To put to death according to form of justice; to punish capitally. (Not applicable)
4. To put to death; to kill . (Not applicable)

enforce: to compell obediance by threat; to execute with vigor.

From Johnson's 1755 dictionary:

1. To give strengh to; to strenghten; to invigorate. (Not applicable)
2. To make or gain by force.
3. To put in act by violence.
4. To instigate; to provoke; to urge on, to animate. (Not applicable)
5. To urge with energy.
6. To compell; to constrain.
7. To press with a charge. Little used. (Not applicable)

Woody  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Apr 27, 04:04:00 AM:

Woody, maybe you should read McCulloch v. Maryland 17 US 316, because Chief Justice Marshall gives a very broad interpretation to the "necessary and proper clause".

Also, if you think there is a difference between "give Congress power" and "gives Congress the power", and "carrying into execution" and "carrying out the execution" could you please explain them to me.

Necessary and Proper  

By Blogger Constitution Cowboy, at Sun Apr 27, 10:39:00 PM:

"Woody, maybe you should read McCulloch v. Maryland 17 US 316, because Chief Justice Marshall gives a very broad interpretation to the "necessary and proper clause"."

McCulloch v. Maryland is a case law precedent, not constitutional law. It's bad case law, too.


"Also, if you think there is a difference between "give Congress power" and "gives Congress the power", and "carrying into execution" and "carrying out the execution" could you please explain them to me.

Necessary and Proper"


This is a very good question you have asked. The answer is so simple, you'll slap your forehead and say, "Wow! I could'a had a V8!"

When you grant power to someone or some thing, it is not an exclusive grant - the power is not exclusive to the grantee and can be shared by others. When you grant THE power to someone or some thing, the whole power is granted exclusively.

Examples:

Congress is granted power to raise and support armies. If Congress had been granted THE power to raise and support armies, the several states wouldn't have to be prohibited to keep troops and ships of war(without Congress's consent). If Congress had been granted THE power to collect taxes, none of the several states could collect any tax.

In Article II, the President is granted THE power to be the Commander in Chief of the armed forces(and the militia when in the employ of the Union) and it isn't necessary to bar anyone else from becoming the Commander in Chief - he has THE power exclusively. If the President had simply been granted power to be the Commander in Chief, it's quite possible that Congress could pass law and make someone else the Commander in Chief, or the president might be able to refuse to be the CinC. Alas, the job is his and his alone.

In Article III, the Supreme Court is granted THE judicial power, and if said article didn't go further and add that the judicial power may also be vested in such inferior courts as Congress may ordain and establish, the judicial power would rest on the Supreme Court exclusively. It would still all rest on the shoulders of the Supreme Court if Congress hadn't established or ordained any inferior courts - which it doesn't have to do, since it says "may" establish or ordain.

Congress is granted power to issue patents, but it is not exclusive. The several states are not forbidden in the Constitution to grant patents to their citizens.

Congress is granted power to provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions. This power is not exclusive, so the several states may also call forth militia. Had the Constitution said that Congress shall have THE power to provide for calling forth the militia, only Congress could call forth the militia, and if a state needed to utilize the militia, Congress would have to provide for calling forth the militia for the state.

The "carrying into execution" and "carrying out the execution" is simpler still when taken in context. Congress has power to make all laws that are necessary and proper for "carrying into execution" the foregoing powers, etc.. That is basically Congress making law to get the job done. "Carrying out the execution" is Congress making the law then going out there beating the streets itself. Can you see Ted Kennedy out chasing a counterfeiter, or collecting a tax you owe, or conducting sobriety checks at a bridge over a river? No? Neither could I, but it would be a bit of poetic justice, I think.

Woody

As the Court said in Boyd v. United States:
"It may be that it is the obnoxious thing in its mildest and least repulsive form; but illegitimate and unconstitutional practices get their first footing in that way, namely, by silent approaches and slight deviations from legal modes of procedure. This can only be obviated by adhering to the rule that constitutional provisions for the security of person and property should be liberally construed. A close and literal construction deprives them of half their efficacy, and leads to gradual depreciation of the right, as if it consisted more in sound than in substance. It is the duty of courts to be watchful for the constitutional rights of the citizen, and against any stealthy encroachments thereon."  

By Blogger fromwembley, at Mon Apr 28, 10:19:00 AM:

Snipes did get off easy with just 3 years. He WAS part of a conspiracy to evade taxes. He should've gotten 8-10 years. Typical black contempt for the law; he earned millions and wanted to pay nothing. They gave him a break because he's black. Still, he's going to prison and is a felon for life.  

By Anonymous mike belgrove, at Mon Apr 28, 12:17:00 PM:

Poor Wesley, lol. According to my fellow Highbrid Nation blogger Juan, Wesley cut 15 million dollars in checks hoping to get a little mercy from the court but got nothing but the book thrown at him. Guess we won't be seeing a Blade 4 anytime soon. Though I feel bad that his sentence was so harsh, I also feel like if I have to pay taxes then so does he.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Apr 28, 09:12:00 PM:

You know what's wrong with this country? You only go to jail if you owe the US government money!! You can't go to jail if you own other people (or businesses) money. That's just wrong. Justice should be equal, and applied equally. The US government should only be able to do what normal people and businesses do; sue you, seize assests, and trash your credit rating. Or, the law should be changed so ANYBODY can go to jail for unpaid debt(s).  

Post a Comment


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?