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Al Sharpton: He Has Tax Problems That Would Have Destroyed Other Public Figures — So Whose Got His Back?

As Sharpton Rose, So Did His Unpaid Tax Bills

Al Sharpton at a voting rights march in 2011. (Photo by Michael Fleshman
Al Sharpton at a voting rights march in 2011. (Photo by Michael Fleshman)

Actor Wesley Snipes was given a three-year jail sentence for failing to file federal tax returns, a misdemeanor.  Singer Lauryn Hill was sentenced to three months for failing to file federal tax returns. The New Times claims Sharpton and his organizations owe millions — yet no jail time for Sharpton. The only other folks with Sharpton-style immunity are the executives on Wall Street who deliberately crashed the global economy in 2008.—Ronald David Jackson

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who came to prominence as an imposing figure in a track suit, shouting indignantly at the powerful, stood quietly on a stage last month at the Four Seasons restaurant, his now slender frame wrapped in a finely tailored suit, as men in power lined up to exclaim their admiration for him.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo hailed him as a civil rights icon. President Obama sent an aide to read a message commending Mr. Sharpton’s “dedication to the righteous cause of perfecting our union.” Major corporations sponsored the lavish affair.


Records reviewed by The New York Times show more than $4.5 million in current state and federal tax liens against him and his for-profit businesses.
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. His National Action Network appears to have been sustained for years by not paying federal payroll taxes on its employees.

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.

Mr. Sharpton and the National Action Network have repeatedly failed to pay travel agencies, hotels and landlords. He has leaned on the generosity of friends and sometimes even the organization, intermingling its finances with his own to cover his daughters’ private school tuition.

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