Why such a harsh punishment? In their sentencing recommendation, prosecutors in the case said that the jurors' decision to acquit the actor of felony charges "has been portrayed in the mainstream media as a 'victory' for Snipes. The troubling implication of such coverage for the millions of average citizens who are aware of this case is that the rich and famous Wesley Snipes has 'gotten away with it.' In the end the criminal conduct of Snipes must not be seen in such a light." Now, for the crime of tax evasion, Snipes is going to prison at taxpayer expense.
You see, the State doesn't like it when its authority is challenged. It will silence any citizen who calls into question the legality of its power to confiscate one's wages. (Forget the fact that wages were not considered income when the 16th Amendment was ratified.) It will make every effort to convince people that forcing you to file an income tax return isn't tantamount to self-incrimination. (Never mind that 5th Amendment to the Constitution forbids exactly that.) It is counting on you to remain ignorant. (Have you ever met a single person who has actually read all 13,000-plus pages of the U.S. Tax Code?)
It will not be mocked. Any appearance of weakness only encourages others to entertain the wild notion that their lives aren't controlled by the State.