Skip to main content

The biggest social media fail of 2015 goes to Al Sharpton

Written By | Jan 4, 2015

WASHINGTON, January 5, 2015 — With the first business day of the New Year upon us, we have an early winner for the biggest fail by any social media user of the year! reports that the good Rev. Al Sharpton turned to twitter for some support from the Twitterverse. And surprise, it was not forthcoming as #wielders shared #PayItBack #TaxEvader and #fakerev.

Rev. Al owes the United States a lot of money and has for years. The exact amount is not known and New York Times reported Sharpton has “more than $4.5 million in current state and federal tax liens against him and his for-profit businesses.”

“Mr. Sharpton has regularly sidestepped the sorts of obligations most people see as inevitable, like taxes, rent and other bills. [Even] with the tax liability outstanding, Mr. Sharpton traveled first class and collected a sizable salary..”

The Times continued,

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.

With the tax liability outstanding, Mr. Sharpton traveled first class and collected a sizable salary, the kind of practice by nonprofit groups that the United States Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration recently characterized as “abusive,” or “potentially criminal” if the failure to turn over or collect taxes is willful.

Mr. Sharpton and the National Action Network have repeatedly failed to pay travel agencies, hotels and landlords. He has leaned on the generosity of friends and sometimes even the organization, intermingling its finances with his own to cover his daughters’ private school tuition.

On politics forum a poster explains that what “Sharpton did is often regarded as the ‘third rail’ by the IRS in that essentially, Sharpton & NAN (National Action Network) were acting as the collection agents for the IRS for the payroll tax.

“Sharpton deducted money from his employees, failing to send it to the IRS, which is theft. If you or I pulled the same stunt, we would be in jail by now.” (edits for clarity and length)

Cementing his role as biggest failure, The New York Post has reported that Sharpton regularly “shakes down” corporations, demanding consultancy payments and donations for his silence.

“Al Sharpton has enriched himself and NAN for years by threatening companies with bad publicity if they didn’t come to terms with him. Put simply, Sharpton specializes in shakedowns,” said Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal & Policy Center, a Virginia-based watchdog group that has produced a book on Sharpton. writes:

Sharpton’s front group, the National Action Network, has been under investigation several times for, among other things, failing to pay payroll taxes and messy, shady bookkeeping. It’s apparent that Sharpton uses the charity to funnel cash into his and his crony’s pockets.

Sharpton has a knack for skirting the law but not going too far over the line when he does transgress. Besides, in New York, he is virtually untouchable and at the federal level — well, Eric Holder and his successor are not lining up to investigate his dealings.

Compare the gregarious, gum-flapping, race baiting Rev. Al to just a good ole’ boy, Willie Nelson to see how racism really works in America. This time it’s the big city Democrat versus the pot-smoking, guitar-playing Democrat.

On September 21, 1990, the IRS placed liens on Willie Nelson’s property totaling $16.7 million, the debt incurred, per a suit Nelson filed, when his accounting firm involved his money in a tex shelter that unbeknownst to him was illegal. It was also revealed that the accountants at Price Waterhouse failed to pay his taxes for a number of years.

There was some negotiating that reduced the debt (which consisted mostly of penalties) by nearly $11 million, but Nelson did not have the money and the IRS took everything except his guitar, which his daughter had shipped out of the country before agents arrived.

Nelson worked with the IRS recording “The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories” in order to earn the money necessary to pay the debt, eventually settling the debt in 1993. As a side note, many of his personal items, including his beloved ranch, were purchased by groups and individuals and then returned to Wilson.

Nelson  was a member of Future Farmers of America as a high school student, served in the U.S. Air Force after high school, and studied agriculture at Baylor University. Nelson has been a constant advocate for America’s heartland, holding Farm Aid concerts, begun in 1985 with his friend musician John Cougar Mellancamp after Bob Dylan’s commented during a Live Aid concert that he hoped some of the money would help American farmers in danger of losing their farms through mortgage debt..

That first concert included Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, B.B. King, Roy Orbison, and Neil Young, raising over $9 million for America’s family farmers. Besides organizing and performing in the annual concerts, Nelson is the president of the board of Farm Aid. (Wikipedia)

Nelson is also a supporter of the Democratic party, a bio-diesel company, has championed for horses and the passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act and the Animal Welfare Institute.  He has long been a supporter of the LBGT movement. And there is more.

So why was Willie Nelson, no doubt an American icon, a good ole’ boy, reduced to a pauper (he is still working at 81) by the IRS while the good Rev. Al is repeatedly invited to the political and social activist table as though he is a force for good? Even as his tax liens are outstanding?

Proof positive of the back-assward climate we live in is the good Rev. Al’s latest foray onto Twitter. It will have you asking, “Didn’t he learn anything from Bill Cosby?” writes:

He started off by asking for feedback on the top stories and individuals of 2014. It was an innocent enough request.

The response, however, was most likely not exactly what he had in mind.


He then tried changing up his request a little bit.  But, that didn’t really help him.



he couldn’t catch a break.


So amid all the criticism and sarcasm, he did get one hopeful response.

Despite all of the opinions expressed in the responses to Sharpton, at least one thing was fact: Sharpton and his organizations currently owe unpaid taxes, with reports claiming anywhere from $3 million to $4.5 million.

It will be hard to top the good Rev. Al Sharpton for stupidity, but it is only January 5.  We have 360 more days ahead of us.

Jacquie Kubin

Jacquie Kubin is an award-winning writer and wanderer. She turns her thoughts to an eclectic mix of stories - from politics to sports. Restless by nature and anxious to experience new things, both in the real world and online, Jacquie mostly shares travel and culinary highlights, introduces readers to the chefs and creative people she meets and shares the tips, life and travel information people want to read.