Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sharpton Escapes IRS Criminal Probe

By paying one million dollars toward back taxes, a criminal investigation against Rev. Al Sharpton has been dropped by the Internal Revenue Service. IRS officials have decided to proceed instead with civil proceedings.

The IRS and New York state and city tax agencies claim that Sharpton and his organization, the National Action Network, collectively owe millions of dollars in back taxes and penalties.

The exact amount Sharpton owes has not been revealed by either the government or Sharpton's lawyers, but there is evidence the debt is sizable.

The IRS obtained a $931,397 lien against Sharpton. City and state officials said he owned them another $933,577. Separately, the National Action Network said in its most recent tax filing that it owed at least $1.9 million in payroll taxes and related interest.

Sharpton, who was defiant when the probe became public in December, claiming it was part of a government smear campaign, sounded more contrite Tuesday.

He said both he and the civil rights group would clean up their books and complete a reorganization intended to ensure the group's long-term fiscal stability.

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