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by Yvette Carnell
Let’s do the math: First Wesley Snipes was locked up, and more recently, Lauryn Hill plead guilty to tax evasion charges. Kelis reportedly owes $300,000, R. Kelly 4.8 million, Mase owes $125,000, and music producer Sean Garret reportedly owes three quarters of a million dollars.
Now, according to Uncle Sam, Beanie Sigel, real name Dwight Grant, is being sent to lockup for earning $1 million in net income from 2003 through 2005 and not paying $348,077 in taxes due during that time period. In all, prosecutors say Sigel owes the IRS $728,536 for tax years 1999 through 2005.
The IRS is also planning to auction off the property of rapper Young Buck, whose home it raided some months back. When the rapper’s home was raided, IRS agents took everything, including his platinum plaques and gaudy jewelry.
Now, since I’m not privy to any of these celebrity’s tax returns, I can’t defend them. It is probably true that they didn’t do their due diligence, or that they didn’t adhere to the letter of the law or the time frames prescribed by the IRS.
But why is the IRS prosecuting these black men and women when General Electric paid a negative 48 percent in taxes last year? In layman’s terms, this means last year, GE, a huge multinational conglomerate, paid no taxes and got a hefty refund at the expense of the taxpayers. GE did that, and it was just fine and dandy with the IRS, but Young Buck’s house got raided?!
Gangster banks are more of a threat than gangster rappers, so why haven’t any of them warranted any scrutiny from Uncle Sam? In 2008, Goldman Sachs reported $2.9 billion in profits, and paid out over $10 billion in compensation, but paid only $14 million dollars in taxes, a 1% tax rate. Shouldn’t that warrant someone’s house getting raided?
Black people are easy targets for sure, because we don’t have anyone in Washington D.C. to do our bidding, to make our case. I’m painfully aware of that. But why should black artists comprise the majority of high profile IRS targets?
You should think about that when you’re writing comments like “he should pay his taxes like everybody else.” Who is the “everybody else” to which you’re referring? Because there are many men on Wall St., and elsewhere, who’ve offended the tax code far worse than these black celebrities, and will never receive as much as a threatening letter from the IRS, much less see the inside of a jail cell.