Mr. Sharpton has regularly sidestepped the sorts of obligations most people see as inevitable, like taxes, rent and other bills. 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.
Fox Business together a fun list of six famous people who were thrown in jail for a tax debt much lower than the faux reverend of MSNBC. The list looked too short so I fond six more and made it a dozen.
- Chuck Berry: In 1979, the rock legend served a five-month sentence at California’s Lompoc Prison Camp after he was found guilty of evading $200,000 in taxes. Berry was also ordered to do 1,000 hours of community service upon his release.
- Pete Rose: In 1990, the former Cincinnati Red star and manager pleaded guilty to two felony charges of filing false federal tax returns. Rose spent five months in a Marion, Ill., federal prison; he was also fined $50,000. Rose had failed to report on his tax returns $354,968 in income from selling memorabilia and autographs, as well as personal appearances (his gambling resulted in a lifetime ban from baseball).
- Richard Hatch: In 2006, this “Survivor” reality star was convicted of tax evasion and tax fraud for failing to pay taxes on his $1 million-plus in “Survivor” winnings. Hatch was sentenced to 51 months in federal prison. He served just over three years before his release in 2009. Hatch was then ordered to refile his 2000 and 2001 tax returns, but did not do so. He was eventually ordered back to jail in 2011 to serve nine months, and left jail on supervised release. By that time, together with penalty and interest, Hatch owed close to $2 million in back taxes.
- Leona Helmsley: In 1992 a federal judge sentenced Leona Helmsley to four years in prison (an initial 16-year sentence was reduced on appeal) after her tax evasion conviction. The billionaire real estate heiress was charged with avoiding $1.2 million in taxes after claiming $2.6 million in ineligible business expenses, including personal items. Helmsley also was ordered to do 750 hours of community service and was slapped with a $7.1 million fine. Helmsley served 21 months and was released in January 1994. She was quoted by her maid at trial as saying: “We don’t pay taxes, only little people pay taxes.
- Lauryn Hill In 2012, Hill pleaded guilty to three counts of failure to file tax returns on $1.8 million in earnings between 2005 to 2007. Even though the founding member of the Fugees had argued she nearly paid off her taxes before sentencing, Hill was sentenced to three months in prison. Her sentencing also took into account unpaid state and federal taxes in 2008 and 2009, which brought the total owed to roughly $2.3 million. Hill served her three-month sentence in a federal prison in Danbury, Conn. in 2013. Upon release, she also spent three months in home confinement as part of her parole.
- Ron Isley: In 2006, the lead singer of The Isley Brothers (“Who’s That Lady”) was found guilty of five counts of tax evasion and one count of willful failure to file tax returns for tax years 1997–2002, amounting to $3.1 million not reported. Isley was sentenced to three years and one month, served three years behind bars, and was released in April 2010. Isley’s attorney had pleaded for leniency because Isley had been attempting to pay down his IRS debt. Defense attorney Anthony Alexander also had argued that the 65-year-old singer should receive probation instead of prison time because of complications from a stroke and a bout with kidney cancer. But the judge on his case, U.S. District Judge Dean Pregerson, declined to sentence the R&B singer to less time than called for under federal guidelines. "The term serial tax avoider has been used. I think that's
- Darryl Strawberry: The former New York Mets outfielder who wasted a promising career on drugs, pleaded guilty to a single count of tax evasion and was sentenced to three months in prison and three months of house arrest. He acknowledged that he had not paid more than $100,000 in owed federal taxes after knowingly failing to report more than $350,000 in income from autograph shows and other promotional appearances from 1986 to 1990. He was originally indicted on three counts of evasion and conspiracy.
- Wesley Snipes: In 2008, the actor was convicted of three misdemeanor counts for failing to file tax returns from 1999 to 2001, cheating the government out of $7 million. He appealed for retrial and lost in 2010, which resulted in a three-year sentence at a McKean Federal Correctional Institution in Pennsylvania, where he was housed with about 290 white-collar inmates. He moved from prison to house arrest in April 2013.
- Jesse Jackson Jr. The former Representative (D–IL) pled guilty on Feb. 20, 2013 for fraudulently obtaining $750,000 of funds from his election campaign, and his wife, Sandra Jackson, pled guilty to one count of tax fraud for covering up the receipt of those funds from 2006 to 2011. Jesse was sentenced to 30 months in prison, while his wife was sentenced to one year.
- Joe Francis: (The Girls Gone Wild guy)In September 2009, Francis pled guilty to misdemeanor counts of filing a false return and bribery. He received credit for time served (331 days) In November 2009, U.S. District Judge S. James Otero accepted Francis’ plea including $250,000 in restitution to the IRS.
- Richard Pryor: The late comic genius told the judge he didn't pay his taxes because he forgot, the judge said go directly to jail for ten days so he'll remember the next year.
- Al Capone: It had nothing to do with Elliot Ness. Capone was convicted and, in November 1931, was sentenced to eleven years in federal prison, fined $50,000 plus $7,692 for court costs, and, in addition, was held liable for $215,000 plus interest due on his back taxes