DOCUMENT: Celebrity, Crime

Wesley Snipes Indicted

Feds: Actor, two cohorts hatched bizarre tax avoidance scheme

Wesley Snipes

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Wesley Snipes Indicted

OCTOBER 17--Wesley Snipes has been indicted on federal criminal charges for his role in a bizarre tax avoidance scheme that allegedly included him seeking $12 million in fraudulent refunds and failing to file six years of tax returns.

In an eight-count indictment unsealed today, Snipes and two others are charged with knowingly attempting to defraud the government by claiming that his substantial income was somehow immune to taxation. A copy of the indictment, filed in U.S. District Court in Ocala, Florida, can be found here.

According to the indictment, Snipes, 44, conspired with Eddie Ray Kahn and former certified public accountant Douglas Rosile in the tax scam.

Kahn is the founder of a Florida company (now known as Guiding Light of God Ministries) that, investigators allege, "promoted and sold fraudulent tax schemes" to clients like Snipes. Kahn has claimed that U.S. citizens could only be taxed on income earned from certain foreign-based activities (and not on money made in this country). This claim--known as the "861 argument" for the section of the tax code to which it refers--has been flatly rejected by the Internal Revenue Service.

As part of the alleged Snipes scheme, the actor filed amended tax returns seeking $12 million in refunds on taxes he paid in 1996 and 1997.

Details of the Snipes tax gambit first surfaced in 2002, when the Department of Justice sought a restraining order against Rosile. As an exhibit to that filing, investigators included a copy of Snipes's amended 1997 tax return, which Rosile prepared. That document, which you can review here, sought a $7.3 million refund of previously paid taxes (Snipes earned $19.2 million in 1997).

The amended return contended that the star's income was "not from a taxable source" and contained a slightly tweaked affirmation next to the form's signature line. The return was supposedly filed "Under no penalties of perjury." (14 pages)