Friday, December 10, 2010

Business Lessons From Wesley Snipes

Actor Wesley Snipes recently reported to prison for 36 months after committing the infamous crime of failing to file his personal and business tax returns for nearly 10 years. Before being sentenced, he pleaded with the courts and the media for sympathy - but to no avail.

Whether he was truly innocent or guilty is irrelevant at this point, but the situation has a lot of business lessons for individuals who are self employed to learn.

1) Pay Your Taxes
This is the most obvious lesson to learn, but also the most important one. As an entrepreneur, you absolutely must take the initiative to file and pay your taxes on time. This includes your business and personal taxes.

Many people who are self-employed are guilty of being several years behind on their taxes and not communicating with the IRS. Make it your goal to resolve this because it will create serious problems later (such as jail time), and may even threaten the existence of your company.

2) Show Respect
Its rumored that Wesley Snipes was quite the character when dealing with tax and court officials. Some say he was rude, arrogant, and even disrespectful to the judge and prosecutors.

The lesson to learn here is to keep your cool. Mouthing off at the wrong person can be very destructive for you and your business - whether you're in a bad tax situation or any other kind of business confrontation.

Learn to be respectful no matter what; You'd be surprised at how far that can get you.

3) Take the Plea
It has also been said that Wesley Snipes was offered a deal for less time in jail, and he unwisely turned it down.

Entrepreneurs who face such circumstances should always remember to be reasonable and realistic in their demands. If you are wrong, humbly admit your mistake and then ask for mercy and leniency. Don't try to win a battle you already lost!


  1. Great article Dante, the main lesson here is to be responsible. Wesley was side tracked by some of those "Americans against unfair taxes" folks. He tried to convince the courts that the laws of the land were wrong but like most he found that he had no power. The end result is 3 years away from his family and society. Scripture says,
    (Paraphrased) Obey the government, for God is the one who has put it there. There is no government anywhere that God has not placed in power.

    2 So those who refuse to obey the laws of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow.

  2. here's the details from The GOVT's perspective:

    The lesson I will remember most is that Tax Advisors won't be held liable for giving their clients Bad Advice.