Stephen Baldwin Paid Another $100,000 To New York; Tab Still At $243,068
Actor Stephen Baldwin, of “Celebrity Apprentice” and the “The Usual Suspects” fame, exited a courthouse last week another $100,000 lighter in the wallet.
The 47 year-old actor’s tax troubles began with an criminal investigation by New York’s Tax Department and District Attorney, Thomas P. Zugibe. Their inquiry uncovered his failure to file state income tax returns from 2008 to 2010. Back taxes due to the state of New York at the time were over $300,000, including penalties and interest. Police arrested Baldwin in December of 2012 and prosecutors charged him with the felony of “Repeated Failure to File Personal Income Tax Returns.”
Baldwin ended up pleading guilty to the felony charge in March of 2013. He also agreed to pay $400,000 in restitution within one year as part of a plea deal. The arrangement gives him a conditional discharge and no jail, but only if he keeps his end of the bargain. Baldwin, including a prior $100,000 payment, has now paid the State $200,000. District Attorney Zugibe, however, intends on asking Judge Apotheker to jail Baldwin if he can’t meet his March 2014 deadline to pay the entire $400,000 in restitution.
Due to the magic of interest and penalties, New York State Tax Commissioner Thomas H. Mattox also announced that Baldwin still owes $243,068 in back taxes.
Bad Tax Advice
Baldwin claims that his dirty deed was the result of “some really bad suggestions and advice” from lawyers and accountants, according to the New York Post. Commissioner Mattox publicly responded to Baldwin’s dilemma by noting that his Tax Department can arrange installment payment agreements to help people voluntarily resolve back taxes and avoid criminal prosecution.
We work diligently with taxpayers to address issues before they escalate [into criminal charges]. If you have a tax debt, don’t hesitate—take action and contact us to resolve your sitaution.”
Solutions for Back Taxes
Florida residents don’t have to worry about being in Baldwin’s shoes. Florida doesn’t collect state income tax (there are other state taxes, though). Commissioner Mattox’s advice, however, still rings true when it comes to federal income taxes. Short on manpower, the IRS has promoted tax resolution options for unpaid, federal tax debt. The IRS recently made these options more appealing to entice delinquent taxpayers.
Owing back taxes won’t often lead to criminal prosecution. As the Baldwin case illustrates, though, penalties and interest will continue to grow a taxpayers debt until it’s paid off. Ignoring tax debt only makes the problem worse.
Ari Good, JD LLM, a tax, aviation and entertainment lawyer, is the Shareholder of Good Attorneys At Law, P.A. He graduated from the DePaul University College of Law in 1997 and received his LL.M. in Taxation from the University of Florida.
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