Snipes faces jail in $12m tax fraud case

ACTOR Wesley Snipes was indicted yesterday on eight counts of tax fraud for allegedly failing to pay nearly $12 million (€9.5m) in taxes and failing to file returns for six years.

Federal prosecutors in Tampa said Snipes fraudulently claimed refunds in 1996 and 1997 on taxes already paid, and then failed to file returns from 1999 to 2004. If convicted, he could be sentenced to 16 years in prison.

The actor, who starred in the Blade trilogy, Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever and the 1992 blockbuster White Men Can’t Jump, has not been arrested because authorities don’t know where he is, the IRS said.

According to the federal indictment, Snipes had his taxes prepared by the firm, American Rights Litigators, which would allegedly receive 20% of refunds from clients.

In 2002, the Justice Department sued a Florida tax preparer who it said filed bogus tax refund claims, including a $7.3m (€5.8m) demand for Snipes.

Snipes was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, which said the preparer’s largest claim was an amended income tax return filed on behalf of Snipes and dated April 14, 2001.

The return requested a $7,360,755 refund for taxes paid in 1997 and said Snipes’ adjusted gross income was zero, according to the lawsuit.

Separately, South Africa refused to admit Snipes in 2005 after officials said he tried to enter the country with a forged passport.

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