Those riled by Trump tax report use Wesley Snipes as example of IRS bias

Social media users say Snipes, other Black celebrities served time, but Trump has not faced consequences for alleged tax evasion
Actor Wesley Snipes was ordered to pay $9.5 million in taxes to the IRS.

Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez

Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez

Actor Wesley Snipes was ordered to pay $9.5 million in taxes to the IRS.

The social media commentary has escalated for President Donald Trump since Sunday’s explosive New York Times report claiming Trump only paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017.

Those angry about the report’s claim have made many comparisons between Trump’s apparent lack of retribution and other high-profile millionaires' penalties.

During the first two years of his presidency, Trump relied on business tax credits to reduce his tax obligations. The Times said $9.7 million of business investment credits that were submitted after Trump requested an extension to file his taxes allowed him to offset his obligations and pay just $750 each in 2016 and 2017.

Trump, who has long been classified as a billionaire, reportedly paid less than many in the middle class paid in taxes in any given year. The report also claims Trump did not pay any taxes 10 of the last 15 years.

Alan Garton, a spokesperson for the Trump Organization, told the Times the report is inaccurate and that the president has “paid tens of millions of dollars in personal taxes to the federal government, including paying millions in personal taxes since announcing his candidacy in 2015.”

The validity of the report has been disputed online since Sunday, but many on Twitter believe the report, especially in light of the president refusing to show his tax filings for many years. Some point to his privilege as president and his status as a white man as reason that the strategic tax filings could have been considered permissible by the IRS. On the other hand, celebrities including legendary singer Ronald Isley, lifestyle guru Martha Stewart and actor Wesley Snipes all had to repay their unpaid tax debts with prison time.

Actor Wesley Snipes enters an Ocala, Florida, courthouse for his tax evasion trial.

Credit: AP Photo/Star-Banner, Erica Brough

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Credit: AP Photo/Star-Banner, Erica Brough

Snipes, who starred in the popular superhero trilogy “Blade,” was used as an example more often than not. Snipes was convicted of three misdemeanor counts for not filing his federal taxes between 1999 and 2004 —a time period in which the movie star banked about $40 million. The “White Man Can’t Jump” star offered to pay $842,000 to help clear his $23.5 million debt, but he was still given a three-year prison sentence. His prison time ended in April 2013.

People blamed the IRS for what they say is bias, and some say racism is why Snipes and others were not given mercy in the eyes of the law.

Along with Snipes, rapper Lauryn Hill also served time for tax evasion in 2013. Isley served more than three years for back taxes he owed. Many noted those prison stints and others as they bemoaned the claims about Trump’s federal tax filings.

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