U.S. Attorney Robert E. O’Neill got the jury in the Wesley Snipes trial laughing on Tuesday – no small feat in a tax-evasion trial – bringing up Steve Martin and his King Tut routine. From that he launched into the comedian’s “How to Make a Million Dollars and Not Pay Taxes.”
First you make a million dollars and when the IRS asks why you didn’t pay taxes, you simply say, “I forgot,” O’Neill told the jury in closing arguments.
The jury, which will begin deliberations Wednesday morning, laughed. But after the jury was dismissed for the day, Snipes was not laughing and admitted he was scared.
“Of course you would be nervous,” he says. “You’re on trial. Anybody would have a certain amount of anxiety about that. But I have a great deal of faith in the Most High and the Good Lord and the truth shall set you free. So, I’m looking forward to being free, going back to what I do best.”
Usually arrayed in somber dark suits and ties, Snipes wore a brightly colored striped kente cloth tie from Ghana. His wife, 10-month-old son and mother were in the courtroom to lend moral support.
When asked if he plans on paying his taxes when the trial is over, Snipes told PEOPLE he remains confused as to what the IRS wants of him.
“I’ve always been paying my taxes and I’ve always been trying to comply,” he says. “This question is, did they tell you what you’re supposed to do to comply? We should be able to go to our government and get clear answers.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Scotland Morris supplied the government’s answer: “Nobody likes paying taxes. Nobody. But paying taxes is the price we pay to live in a civilized society.”