Before the sentencing, the actor asked the court to show mercy and offered three checks totaling $5 million as a gesture of good will.
Federal prosecutors diverted the checks to the U.S. Treasury -- which accepted the payment -- but it wasn't enough.
"It's essentially a down payment, but a fraction of what he owes," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Scotland Morris.
Snipes' attorneys -- who had argued he should get probation or house arrest -- said they will appeal the sentence.
The actor, who showed little reaction, gave a loud "wow" to the crowd as he exited the courtroom. Watch Snipes leave the court »
A jury convicted Snipes on the misdemeanor charges February 1, but he was acquitted of more serious felony charges of tax fraud and conspiracy. Jurors accepted his argument that he was innocently duped by errant tax advisers.
Snipes gets the max -- 3 years -- in tax case - CNN.com