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November 20 2014

The Reverend: Taxes for Thee, but not for Me

Patrice J. Lee

For nearly every race-related issue that has arisen over the past two decades, we could count on the Reverend Al Shaprton’s being there or using the incidents to promote himself and his organizations. He’s now considered a civil rights “icon” and advisor to President Obama and other figures such as New York Mayor Bill de Blaiso.

A better orator than auditor, we’re learning: the Reverend reportedly has not paid his taxes for years and years. He sees big government as the remedy for the ills of society, and yet he doesn’t seem to be kicking in his fair share (as a friend of his likes to put it) to finance the system.

According to a review of public records by the New York Times, Sharpton has had a long history of racking up debts that he did not pay, avoiding personal and business taxes, stiffing bills for travel, and not paying rent. He faces personal federal tax liens of more than $3 million, and state tax liens of $777,657, according to records. Raw Talent and Revals Communications, other companies connected to him, owe another $717,329 in state and federal tax liens. This does not count the unpaid rent bills he's racked up among his own friends.

Sharpton's for-profit company skirted federal payroll taxes on staff salaries. At the same time he co-mingled his revenue and expenses with that of his organization, the National Action Network. He pulled down over-sized salaries, claimed to have turned over fees from speaking engagement to the group, and paid for personal expenses including his daughter’s tuition.

Yet, he’s managed to slyly explain away his misdealing and rely on the kindness of friends to build his reputation, organization, and influence. All the while he wags his finger at limited government and lower tax supporters, claiming we don't care about the poor or that the rich are not paying their fair share.

The New York Times reports:

Mr. Sharpton has regularly sidestepped the sorts of obligations most people see as inevitable, like taxes, rent and other bills...

And though he said in recent interviews that he was paying both down, his balance with the state, at least, has actually grown in recent years...

With the tax liability outstanding, Mr. Sharpton traveled first class and collected a sizable salary, the kind of practice by nonprofit groups that the United States Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration recently characterized as “abusive,” or “potentially criminal” if the failure to turn over or collect taxes is willful.

The amount National Action Network underpaid the federal government in taxes went from about $900,000 in 2003 to almost $1.9 million by 2006, records show. Mr. Sharpton, making more money from a new radio contract, tried to help by forgoing a salary from 2006 through 2008 and giving the organization a $200,000 no-interest loan.

...

In 2009, when the group still owed $1.1 million in overdue payroll taxes, Mr. Sharpton began collecting a salary of $250,000 from National Action Network. The recent Treasury report that called that sort of practice abusive also said only 1,200 organizations in the nation owed more than $100,000 in unpaid payroll taxes, which would put Mr. Sharpton’s group among the most delinquent nonprofit organizations in the nation.

Sharpton’s financial problems and abuse of his organization are distasteful and earn rightful criticism.

This is also massive hypocrisy on the part of Sharpton who has derided Wall Street and CEO’s for making too much and not paying their fair share. Perhaps he should have asked the same question of himself.

I hope Sharpton's supporters take careful note of his mismanagement and hypocrisy. However, he's not alone in his convenient moral outrage. Collectivist philosophy plays a role here. The belief that the hardship of few must be borne by all and that government should redistribute success and pain equally make possible this inconsistency in approach.

The likes of Sharpton want the trappings of success such as finely tailored suits, luxury accommodations, and lucrative financial deals, but they don't want the responsibility and costs attached.

The next time we hear Sharpton railing against billionaire donors, Wall Street, or big companies, or clamoring for the rich to pay more we should ask, and how is that tax bill going?



Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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