MAY 12, 2008
A renowned civil rights activist and one-time presidential candidate, who runs a lucrative charity that gets hefty donations from powerful Democrats, owes the government about $1.5 million in taxes and penalties.
Known for organizing disruptive marches to protest wrongdoing against blacks, the Reverend Al Sharpton is also a savvy businessman who rakes in millions of dollars annually in donations from major corporations and politicians. The money goes to his Harlem-based nonprofit, National Action Network, and sometimes to his for-profit company, Reverend Al Communications.
It turns out that the fiery minister is in trouble again for refusing to pay taxes, including tens of thousands of dollars to properly maintain workers compensation and unemployment insurance for employees of his civil rights group. According to government records obtained by a national media outlet, Sharpton owes the government nearly $1.5 million.
The debts include $931,397 in unpaid federal income tax and $365,558 in New York City income tax as well as $175,962 in delinquent taxes from his communications company. Sharpton has been in trouble with the law in the past for evading taxes and failing to abide by rules governing his charities and elections committees.
In fact, in 2005 he was forced to repay the government $100,000 plus interest for taxpayer funds he took during his unsuccessful 2004 effort to win the Democratic presidential nomination. In 1993, the animated Baptist reverend pleaded guilty to not filing a state income tax return in 1986.
Major companies such as beer giant Anheuser-Busch and Pepsi Co. annually give Sharpton lucrative donations as do influential politicians—including the governor, attorney general and members of Congress—in New York where his charity is based. New York Governor David Paterson, has transferred nearly $30,000 from his own re-election committee to the National Action Network, veteran Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel has given Sharpton nearly $100,000 and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo $10,000.
One of these elected officials should tell the reverend to pay his taxes like millions of Americans do each year. Perhaps Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, who recently got Sharpton’s coveted endorsement, can step in. In mid March Sharpton announced his highly sought support for the Illinois senator after claiming that Hillary Clinton has "never done nothing for us (blacks)."
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