July 19, 2018

Joe Kristan

Wesley Snipes’s Prison Sentence Seems Pretty Fair

After suffering in tax and appellate court purgatory for several years, Wesley Snipes is finally reporting to prison today for his conviction of willful failure to file tax returns. There’s a whole slew of stories out there on the subject because a celebrity is going to prison, in case you weren’t aware, is important news.

However, as we told you about last week, some people aren’t convinced that the sentence is fair.

Responding to a post by Tim Cavanagh at Reason, rather than embrace mostly inflammatory nonsense, our friend Joe Kristan writes an objective analysis to get to the bottom of the debate:

Mr. Snipes was convicted of three counts of willfully failing to file tax returns for three years. The federal guidelines for prison sentences on tax crimes are largely based on the “tax loss” determined for the crime. Mr. Snipes’ “tax loss” was determined to be over $40 million, which would by itself indicate a sentence of at least 78 months – 6 1/2 years — under the guidelines. Since the maximum sentence for three counts of failure to file is the three years he got, the sentence is actually smaller than the guidelines would indicate.

Now, you may be saying to yourself, “The sentence is longer because a nasty judge is making an example out of one of the most important American artists in vampire cinema!” Joe checked into that too:

But Mr. Snipes still has a legitimate complaint if he’s the only person getting jailed for criminal failure to file, or he’s getting a much longer sentence than others. Is his sentence exceptional?

I don’t know of any statistical study of tax sentences, so we’ll go to the Google. (prison failure to file -snipes). The first page of results includes:

Anthony Kevin Slicker: $265,477 tax loss, 12 month sentence for failing to file for 1 year.

Steven A. Roebuck, Dentist: unknown tax loss, two-year sentence for failing to file for two years.

Arlan Turley, Dentist: 18 months, unknown tax loss, failure to file for two years.

Contrary to Tim Cavenaugh, then, other people get the maximum sentence 12-month per-year for willful failure to file, even with much lower tax losses.

Will the culture suffer? That’s up for debate. But willful failure to file taxes still happens to be a crime with punishment guidelines. If Wes was really saving all of us from vampires maybe the judge would have a good reason to make an exception. Although, that could make for a decent screenplay (straight to video, natch). Three years should be enough time to nail it down.

HR 4213: Soon-to-be the Worst Tax Enactment of the New Decade?

“The S corporation tax increase in HR 4213 is a mess and should not be enacted.”

~ Joe Kristan, on the legislation that will hit small business with a 2.9% medicare tax increase.

It’s Entirely Possible that the State of Pennsylvania Is Exaggerating Their Intelligence Gathering Capabilities

“If Pennsylvania really had Syndrome’s technology to help it zero in on tax evaders and perhaps blow them off the face of the planet, why would they need an amnesty in the first place? You’d think they would just collect the tax or vaporize the deadbeats. It’s largely a bluff.”

~ Joe Kristan, on this.

Five Questions with Joe Kristan

Joe Kristan is the newest regular contributor to Going Concern but he’s been blogging on his own since 2001. For some of you, this predates your own lover affair with the American tax system.

Joe is a shareholder of Roth & Company, P.C. and also serves as the firm’s technical director. He works with a variety of clients on partnership issues, corporate restructurings, and acquisitions.

Between his professional responsibilities and discussing tax deductible sex change expenses and charities founded by pederasts, Joe also manages to find time to teach classes to other tax professionals and write articles for both professional and general publications.


Why do you blog?
Because I can’t golf or play an instrument.

If someone had to read just one post of yours which one would it be?
Local CPA Firm vows to swallow pride, accept $28 million

If you’re an accounting blogger you must…
…have understanding or clueless partners

Accountants are…
…people too.

Best Accounting firm we’ve never heard of
Roth Company, P.C. of course! It’s where I work, for starters. Also, we look a lot like a law firm, with 9 shareholders in a staff of about 35, with the non-shareholders weighted towards the highly-experienced. I think it’s a business model suited for an era of difficult tax and accounting rules and advancing technology.