Every Sharpton business known has been dissolved for failure to comply with tax rules


So far, every for-profit enterprise started by Al Sharpton and known to National Review Online has been shut down in at least one jurisdiction for failure to pay taxes, a review of public records in New York and Delaware reveals.

Records show that Sharpton’s beleaguered for-profit entities often overlap and intertwine, some sharing ties with the reverend’s nonprofit organization, National Action Network. Their financial records are copious, confusing, and sometimes outright bizarre, and together, they depict persistent financial woes for Sharpton, who also personally owes New York State nearly $596,000, according to active tax warrants.

He clearly appears — based on the information that’s available to us — to have a history of noncompliance with tax obligations,” says Bernadette Schopfer, the director of taxation at New York’s Maier Markey & Justic, a certified public-accounting firm that has had no dealings with Sharpton or National Action Network. “It appears that [Sharpton] does not file [taxes for his businesses], and then opens up something else. At all the entities we see he has opened up, he has not been compliant with the obligations of the owner of a business. . . . He’s either willful in his behavior, or he’s just sloppy.”

Sharpton, who was traveling internationally, was unavailable for an interview, despite NRO’s numerous queries over several days.

Sharpton’s first for-profit company, Raw Talent, probably has the strangest set of tax-debt records. The company was incorporated as a for-profit entity in 1991, the same year Sharpton founded National Action Network.

Raw Talent racked up a lot of tax debt. According to a 2007 lien that appears to remain active, the company owed a total of $580,453 in federal taxes, and state records say it also owes $4,834 in New York taxes.

For some reason, the federal lien says the taxes owed are for the tax period ending in 1950 — long before Raw Talent was incorporated. (Perhaps this is a clerical error, Schopfer says.) The kind of tax debt listed is also strange: It’s listed under the code 4720, which signifies an excise tax on charities, even though Raw Talent was registered as a for-profit entity, not a philanthropic nonprofit. A spokesperson for the Internal Revenue Service could not explain this to NRO, saying privacy laws prohibit the agency from commenting on the tax situations of specific individuals or entities.

New York dissolved Raw Talent in 2002 for failure to pay taxes, but not before Sharpton opened up a new company, Revals Communications, in 1999.

Revals Communications has its own set of oddities. For starters, various records show it shared Battery Park Place and Broadway office addresses with the soon-to-be defunct Raw Talent.

From the very beginning, Revals Communications ran into tax problems. The records indicate the company either failed to file or failed to pay taxes from 1999 to 2002.

The tax debt started off slowly, at $10,585 in total for the first three years. But in 2002, the same year Raw Talent dissolved, Revals Communications’ unpaid balance ballooned by an additional $215,606. Meanwhile, a 2007 New York tax warrant shows Revals Communications also owed the state $175,962. New York finally dissolved the company in 2009.

Before that, though, the reverend founded yet another for-profit entity, Sharpton Media Group. Unlike the other companies, he originally registered Sharpton Media Group in Delaware, a state where corporations don’t need to disclose much.

Sharpton then registered the company in New York as a foreign limited-liability company in July 2004, three months after it opened in Delaware. In 2007, Delaware dissolved it for failure to file tax records. At the time, an entity report from Delaware says, Sharpton Media Group owed $7,001 in taxes. But records show the entity remains active in New York.

A representative from the New York Division of Corporations tells NRO in an e-mail that state law “provides that when an authorized foreign corporation . . . has been dissolved, merged out of existence, or had its authority to conduct its business terminated or canceled in its jurisdiction of incorporation, it must file a Certificate of Termination of Existence with the New York State Department of State.” According to state records, Sharpton had made no such filing.

Though the reverend could not be reached, a National Action Network spokeswoman said in an e-mail that Sharpton Media Group ceased to operate after a tax settlement. The same spokeswoman did not reply to NRO’s queries about when, exactly, Sharpton Media Group became inactive. But a National Action Network news release says Sharpton Media Group had partnered with another company to produce a TV show, “The Education SuperHighway,” in 2010 — years after it should have been dissolved in New York.

Money from Sharpton Media Group ended up at National Action Network, even though charitable watchdogs say a loan from a company owned by a nonprofit’s leader raises significant red flags and can constitute a conflict of interest. The nonprofit’s tax filings show balances due of $19,174 in 2010; $53,144 in 2011; and $47,302 in 2012.

In 2005, a little more than a year after opening up Sharpton Media Group, the reverend also incorporated a company called Bo Spanky in New York. The story of the company’s unusual name is either sweet or sour, depending on whom you ask: One source close to Sharpton says the reverend chose it from his two daughters’ pet names, “Bo” and “Spanky,” but another source says “Bo Spanky” was the irksome nickname of Sharpton’s mentor and rival Jesse Jackson.

Like Sharpton Media Group, Bo Spanky loaned money to National Action Network; the nonprofit’s tax filings list balances due to Bo Spanky of $187,078 in 2010; $58,079 in 2011; and $87,079 in 2012.

NRO could find no federal tax liens filed against Bo Spanky.  But a $1,645 tax debt to the state proved the company’s undoing, and it was dissolved in 2012 for failure to pay.

On National Action Network’s latest tax filing, from 2013, loans from Bo Spanky and Sharpton Media Group disappear, apparently replaced by a loan directly from the reverend himself, with a balance due to Sharpton of $328,881.


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