Wesley Snipes was sentenced Thursday to three years in prison for three misdemeanor counts of failing to file tax returns — the maximum requested by federal prosecutors.
Federal prosecutors said the actor for nearly a decade escaped paying more than $15 million in income tax returns by sending money to overseas accounts.
"Snipes’ long prison sentence should send a loud and crystal clear message to all tax defiers that if they engage in similar tax defier conduct, they face joining him," said Assistant Attorney General Nathan J. Hochman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.
Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Douglas Shulman said the law is clear on taxes.
"There is no secret formula that eliminates a person’s tax obligations, nor are there any special exceptions," he said.
"The majority of Americans pay their taxes timely and accurately. Those who willfully violate the law must be held accountable."
Snipes was not forced to surrender immediately. Instead, the judge ruled he could surrender at a later date, closer to his New Jersey home.