The definition of a 'misdemeanor' used to be a crime for which punishment could not exceed a year. So it's with some surprise that I read Wesley Snipes was just released following completion of a 3-year federal sentence imposed following a criminal failure to file or pay taxes. No, I wasn't surprised a person could be locked up for nonfiling – I was merely surprised that the 3-year sentence arose from a misdemeanor conviction.
On closer examination, the conviction turns out to be three convictions for the same charge – that is, one year per conviction – plus a year of probation. One charge per failure to file. The sentence, handed down by a judge, followed a jury's decision not to convict Snipes for any of the felonies with which he was charged.
Occasionally, when you hear the United States has a "voluntary" tax system, think of Snipes.