Wesley Snipes reflects on serving prison sentence for taxes
The 'Dolemite is My Name' star says powerful people like the president avoided accountability because they knew the right people
Wesley Snipes has spoken out about the double standard of having to serve a prison sentence for failure to file taxes while Donald Trump has evaded similar accountability and even ascended to the Oval Office.
The Blade actor commanded $13M in 2004 for starring in the third installation of the Marvel blockbuster but his fortunes were reversed in the years to come. There were rumors about his behavior on set, a dip in his career as his movies went straight to DVD, and then he ran afoul of the IRS. Snipes was ultimately convicted of three misdemeanor counts of failure to file tax returns and was sentenced to 3 years in jail.
He was released after two and a half years in 2013. As theGrio reported last month, Trump only paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2016, the year he ran for the presidency, and the same amount his first year in office, according to documents obtained by the New York Times.
Though Trump, who has not been charged with any tax-related crimes, paid no federal income taxes in 10 of the past fifteen years, Snipes got 3 years just for misdemeanor convictions.
“Well, that’s an easy answer. He’s the president of the United States,” Snipes told the Guardian when asked about Trump’s ability to avoid paying taxes in an article published Monday. “But he got away with it when he wasn’t president. This is not rocket science. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
Snipes, 58, maintains that the case brought against him was a miscarriage of justice.
“The law says you pay for people who are experts to manage your business affairs, yet I was included as a co-conspirator with the lawyer and the accountants. Now this is rare. Very unusual situation.”
He was asked if he believed it was a miscarriage of justice.
“Absolutely. Of course it was unfair,” Snipes said.
Snipes referred to prison as “camp” but conceded that he could have made different choices.
“I made decisions. I accept the ramifications of those decisions. No one forced me to take that person as my accountant; no one forced me to take that person as my lawyer. No one forced me to believe what they were saying. That was on me. I don’t have time to sit back and say I was wronged and recapture all that was lost,” he said.
Snipes, who experienced a career renewal playing D’Urville Martin in the Eddie Murphy-led Dolemite Is My Name Netflix film last year, said that his time served was ultimately positive. He noted that he spent most of his time in prison in mediation and isolation.
“I hope I came out a better person,” he said. “I came out a clearer person. Clearer on my values, clearer on my purpose, clearer about my relationship with my ancestors and the great god and the great goddess above, and clearer on what I was going to do once I had my freedom back.”
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