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Wesley Snipes

Wesley Snipes has been indicted for tax fraud and failure to file tax returns. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.  As I write this, his whereabouts are unknown, although some speculate he is in Africa.

I have this mental image of a bunch of IRS agents wandering through the woods, carrying a gunny sack and yelling "Heeere Snipes, Heeere Snipes!"

I have a small amount of sympathy for Mr. Snipes. Filing income tax returns is a pain. The paperwork can be daunting, and if you get it wrong you can get in trouble. The reason it's only about a small amount is because in addition to failing to file tax returns, he apparently also fraudulently obtained a $12 million refund. This has to be the result of bad faith, not just a mistake or getting overwhelmed by paperwork.

All of his crimes were commited on the advice of a group called American Rights Litigators, a group of tax protesters who sell bogus strategies for getting out of paying income taxes. Normally I sympathize with nutty right wing tax protesters, but these people are despicable. They take people money and in exchange give them advice that gets them in legal trouble. This is worse than taking their money and doing nothing.

They are a good argument for implementing the fair tax (or national sales tax). Along with its other benefits (such as getting revenue from illegal immigrants and drug dealers that we don't get under the current system) it would render groups like ARL irrelevant. If there is no federal income tax there is no need for the bizarre schemes that groups like ARL sell, and they would go out of business.