Celebrity Watch: Snipes, out on bail, continues his fight

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Actor Wesley Snipes is fighting the government again, but this time over a bill of nearly $260,000 to cover the costs of prosecuting him on tax evasion charges.

According to the Ocala Star-Banner, federal prosecutors in May asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Gary R. Jones to order Snipes to pay $257,687 for the cost of prosecuting the case. Snipes's lawyers, in a motion filed May 28, argued that the costs should not be allowed.

His lawyers noted that Snipes was acquitted of some of the charges, and the bill wrongly included costs associated with them. The defense motion also says that none of the costs were allocated to Snipes's co-defendants, Eddie Ray Kahn and Douglas Rosile. Kahn and Rosile were convicted of conspiracy to defraud and aiding and abetting the making of a false and fraudulent claim.

Snipes was found guilty of three misdemeanor counts of willfully failing to file tax returns between 1999 and 2001; he was acquitted on two felony charges and three additional charges of failure to file. He was sentenced in April to three years in prison, but is out on bail while his appeal is pending.

U.S. District Judge William Terrell Hodges agreed to bail, but wrote in his decision that he was dubious of Snipes's appeal arguments, Reuters reported.

In a separate tax matter, the IRS, which vigorously pursued Snipes, is being told to stop using the label "illegal tax protesters" in its documents on accused tax evaders. (Snipes defended his case for years using the tax protestor argument that the government has no legal right to collect taxes.)

Stars Behind Bars

Congress outlawed the term in 1998 because of the concern that the label could create a stigma for these individuals, even after they had complied with tax laws. Most uses of this term have been eliminated, but the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found 430 references to "illegal tax protesters" out of about 65.2 million records. You can read the full report.

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