Fraudulent Slavery Reparations
October 24, 2003 5:58 AM   Subscribe

Recipient of largest slavery reparations claim sentanced to 3 years in jail and her father, the accountant who did the paperwork to get the refund received 13 years in jail. The article goes on to report that the IRS estimates the fraudulent reparations payout to be apporx $2.7B. "It was unjust because we are supposed to get reparations as black people -- just like the Jews got it. What do we get? Jail time," said family friend Margaret Roach What do you think?
posted by cpfeifer (70 comments total)
 
Maybe I've been out of the U.S. too long, or maybe I wouldn't have been able to figure this out even if I were still there. Either way, I am begging dhartung to come and make some sense of this; please somebody - put up the dhartung emergency signal light....
posted by taz at 6:07 AM on October 24, 2003


This country is going to collapse under the weight of its idiots if we don't implement some kind of effective education system soon.

(And that was an extremely poorly written article that failed to clearly explain its subject matter.)
posted by rushmc at 6:10 AM on October 24, 2003


This country is going to collapse under the weight of its idiots if we don't implement some kind of effective education system soon.
So true. And for those with their bullshit detectors in the repair shop, the Jews did not get reparations. If they did, where's my share man?
posted by Outlawyr at 6:13 AM on October 24, 2003


It's my opinion that there shouldn't be any entitlement to reparations, but putting that aside - They filed false claims, they go to jail, just like anybody else who filed false claims would.
posted by ringmaster at 6:14 AM on October 24, 2003


A Richmond accountant who helped his daughter get a $507,490 tax refund for nonexistent "federal slavery tax credits" was sentenced Thursday to 13 years in prison. His daughter was sentenced to three years.

"Federal Slavery Tax Credits" are not real. Of course, the IRS does make mistakes....
posted by grabbingsand at 6:15 AM on October 24, 2003


Fraud = jail.

Perpertual self-victimization by an ethnic group = perpetual failure of said ethnic group.
posted by eas98 at 6:23 AM on October 24, 2003


Maybe when she said jews she meant native americans? Either way it's apples & oranges, but makes a little bit more sense. I want back all those hours as a child watching reruns of The Jeffersons, not knowing any better that what I was watching was horridly written trite garbage thinly disguised as intelligent and civilized adult entertainment. You don't see me demanding restitution.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:29 AM on October 24, 2003


I find this whole issue quite fascinating. First of all, there is grabbingsand's second link. The IRS dished out $30 million bucks in fraudulent slavery compensation claims, WTF????? (I guess that if you get caught, you're going to feel the rage ...)

Second, there is the recent story of the woman who did not pay taxes on her $920,000 salary claiming that

"I've been asking the IRS that question for 10 years," she said in a television interview after the verdict. "What section of the Internal Revenue Code makes me liable for the individual income tax? And what law requires me to file the Form 1040 form? And for 10 years I have not gotten a response to that particular question."

And she got away with it, WTF???

Finally, according to the IRS itself,

Thousands of African-Americans have been misled by people offering to file for tax credits or refunds related to reparations for slavery. There is no such provision in the tax law. Some unscrupulous promoters have encouraged clients to pay them to prepare a claim for this refund. But the claims are a waste of your money. Plus, those who file subsequent claims can be subject to a $500 frivolous return penalty.

$500 or 13 years in jail? WTF?????


Oh, and Outlawyr might have missed something important.
posted by magullo at 6:36 AM on October 24, 2003


Yeah, but those are reparations from the Swiss and German governments, not the US Federal Treasury.
posted by Irontom at 6:47 AM on October 24, 2003


Irontom, could you kindly explain why the US Federal Treasury would have to pay reparations for the Nazi Holocaust?

/Not giving up on precedent
posted by magullo at 6:56 AM on October 24, 2003


magullo, could you kindly explain where Irontom says the US should pay reparations for the Nazi Holocaust? (The guy in the article said "the Jews got it", presumably from the US government. That's obviously what Irontom was referring to.)

/Wondering what you're talking about
posted by jpoulos at 7:04 AM on October 24, 2003


Precedent is indeed important. Can we all agree that the Swiss and German governments should pay reparations for slavery in the US?
posted by blue mustard at 7:05 AM on October 24, 2003


The IRS dished out $30 million bucks in fraudulent slavery compensation claims, WTF????? (I guess that if you get caught, you're going to feel the rage ...)

People don't line-item the claims as "Slavery Reparations" -- they try to hide him (as this guy did by creating a fictional overpayment to a fictitional investment fund). I think that also explains the difference between a $500 "frivolous claim" fine, and a 13-year jail sentance for tax fraud.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:08 AM on October 24, 2003


What do you think?

I think bolded comment-begging pointless questions are even worse than normal comment-begging pointless questions.
posted by languagehat at 7:10 AM on October 24, 2003


(by the way, cpfeifer, What do you think? is kind of already implied by this format. See also, "Discuss")
posted by pardonyou? at 7:11 AM on October 24, 2003


Damn. Too quick, languagehat. Too quick.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:12 AM on October 24, 2003


I find myself agreeing with Juan Williams on the idea of reparations. Accepting reparations eliminates the moral authority from which the continuing struggle for equality stems, and from which has historical drawn white support for African-American grievance. Paying African-Americans off not only cheapens the historical efforts of Civil Rights leaders, but it removes the source of justification for further efforts. Once the debt for slavery, segregation and insititutionalized racism is paid, the Civil Rights movement is finished. And then, what of the very real problems that still face the African-American community?
posted by UncleFes at 7:17 AM on October 24, 2003


I think a better precedent would be the reparations paid to the Japanese Americans who were forced to live in interment camps during WWII.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 7:17 AM on October 24, 2003


didn't you know, everyone's a victim now.
posted by johnnyboy at 7:20 AM on October 24, 2003


You may or may not believe in reparations, something not yet established for slavery, but the issue here is tax fraud, and on that, there is no reason to argue about the rights and wrongs of reparations. Individuals can not make up their own tax rules, so far as I understand things.
posted by Postroad at 7:23 AM on October 24, 2003


What do you think?

I try not to. It would only make me go crazy.
posted by jonmc at 7:27 AM on October 24, 2003


Right.

The question "should people get reparations" is different than "does the tax code currently provide for reparations." The answer to the second question is clearly no.

As for all the people that get away with wacky tax ideas, remember that the US tax system is largely based on the idea of self-reporting. I.e., for at least 90% of people that file returns, almost nothing is done to verify the return. What keeps people honest (the IRS hopes) is the penalties and jail time that you'll get hit with if they catch you.
posted by Mid at 7:28 AM on October 24, 2003


I absolutely believe in reparations. Every living former slave should be given a generous settlement.
posted by Bonzai at 7:30 AM on October 24, 2003


Oh -- on the Jews and reparations -- my understanding is that the reparations were not a blanket handout to Jews generally, but were tied to some sort of individual claim to entitlement. With the Swiss, for instance, I thought the reparations were tied to specific bank accounts / insurance policies that the Swiss essentially stole from specific Jews.

This is obviously different than some of the blanket reparations ideas tossed around regarding slavery.
posted by Mid at 7:32 AM on October 24, 2003


jpoulos, thanks for the backup while I was away.

magullo, he's right. I was pointing out the error the guy in the article made. It looked like you were making the same mistake.
posted by Irontom at 7:39 AM on October 24, 2003


In that story it mentioned that many of the spectators at the trial believed that the US Government had no authority over US blacks because they were abducted and brought to this country.

I would like to call for those who believe this (assuming that they are themselves black and descendants of former slaves) to renounce their citizenship and get the hell out of the country.
posted by Fantt at 7:40 AM on October 24, 2003


This story proves that avarice and stupidity know no color. It's a refreshing to see that black Americans are stepping up and engaging in the potentially lucrative types of fraud and deceipt that were traditionally associated with the white gentry.

Perhaps someday in the future white-collar crime will be engaged in by people of all colors, equally.
posted by mosch at 7:40 AM on October 24, 2003


The reparations in Mugullo's linked articles as well as those paid to the victims of the Japanese Internment refer to the liquidation and return of frozen assets and to legal settlement payments. As most african slaves had little assets to freeze or steal neither of these examples is actually relevant. What this sub set of the african american community is asking for is not a return of lost property plus damages, they are asking for an entitlement payment for damages to be paid by the US government, a third party, who actually spent millions of dollars and the lives of hundreds of thousands of its citizens in order to repair the situation 140 years ago. Now filing claims against corporations who profited due to the suffering of slaves is a whole other matter, but then again I don't hear of a lot of immigrant coal miners' descendants filing suits in Pennsylvania or meat cutters' descendants in Chicago and there was plenty of suffering and exploitation going on there too in the 1800's (and beyond)!
posted by Pollomacho at 7:49 AM on October 24, 2003


Perhaps someday in the future white-collar crime will be engaged in by people of all colors, equally.

That would be "rainbow-collar" crimes then, no? Or is that crimes committed by homosexuals? I'm sooo confused....
posted by rushmc at 7:59 AM on October 24, 2003


jpoulos / irontom Funny how when I read "the Jews got it", I immediately knew what he was talking about - no need for presumption when there are well-publicized facts lying around.

Once the debt for slavery, segregation and institutionalized racism is paid, the Civil Rights movement is finished.

Did nazism lose its bad rep after the reparations were paid? I didn't get that memo.

And, Pollomacho, the holocaust compensation claims do indeed cover for those who performed slave or forced labor. Furthermore, slavery was not the sole cause for the American Civil War. But you knew that already.

/Nice one, blue mustard :0)
posted by magullo at 8:03 AM on October 24, 2003


I don't remember the Nazis paying any reparations.

However, those corporations that have made reparation payments have benefited from improved PR (or rather, from the lack of negative PR).
posted by obfusciatrist at 8:24 AM on October 24, 2003


I don't remember the Nazis paying any reparations.

That's precisely the point. It wasn't only corporations but actual governments (at least the Austrian one) with no direct involvement who paid up. And in at least some cases, to claim compensations, you just have to show up. No further proof is needed. I'm not saying it's a 100% perfect match, but I'd call it a precedent.

And, yes, it was probably a PR nightmare unfolding for the big corps.
posted by magullo at 8:40 AM on October 24, 2003


Postroad gets it right: This isn't about reparations, it's about tax fraud. The discussion of reparations is, not surprisingly, ill-informed.
posted by subgenius at 8:47 AM on October 24, 2003


In the German and Austrian case those corporations acquired their slave labor from government contracts while in the case of an American plantation owner slaves were independently purchased from Dutch traders until the importation of slaves from Africa was outlawed, then they had to trade amongst themselves or purchase black market slaves. Of course that discounts the sacrifices made by the United States government in order to end the practice of slavery (sure, one could argue that "states' rights" was the cause, but states' right to do what? Own slaves, silly). The government of the third reich never outlawed the importation of slave labor and they never fought to free them, on the contrary, they were the importers and slave owners. The two situations are connected only because they both involve the use of slaves, not in the responsibility of government agencies.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:54 AM on October 24, 2003


This isn't about reparations, it's about tax fraud.

Really? I don't think anyone here disputes that in the particular case referred to in the FPP, actionable tax fraud occurred and should be punished. In that sense, yes, the story is about tax fraud. Our discussion, however, is about the underlying issue--reparations.

The discussion of reparations is, not surprisingly, ill-informed.

Thanks for the insight. Perhaps you would be so kind as to enlighten us with you wisdom?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 8:56 AM on October 24, 2003


I would be in support of reparations if the money was paid out to black community organizations instead of to individuals. A large influx of money can bring about great change in any social group, and American black have certainly gotten a raw deal over the years. It would stop people from going on spending sprees with the money (like buying a $40k mercedes).

Or how about this idea. Four years free college tuition, room, board, and books for anyone able to prove him/herself a descendant of a slave.

Reparations should help the black community (and ultimately the whole country), not Mercedes, Nike, or any of the other large corporations that would bank the money after the spending spree of the century took place.

Oh, and I agree that the people from this article should go to jail for tax fraud.
posted by password at 9:03 AM on October 24, 2003


<snicker> Pollomacho said, "black market slaves." </snicker>
posted by Badmichelle at 9:29 AM on October 24, 2003


monju_bosatsu: The problem with the reparations discussion is that it's based on an FPP that isn't about reparations. Without the context a FPP usually provides, this thread seems to be, by and large, people's unsupported opinions. There's a whole universe of literature about reparations that has been completely ignored here. I briefly considered drafting a new FPP, but then I read some of the comments (e.g., go back to Africa and everything was fixed 140 years ago) and I remembered that metafilter doesn't do a good job discussing race.
posted by subgenius at 9:33 AM on October 24, 2003


So password, what you're saying is that the reparations for slavery should be spent on things you choose rather than on what the people who are being compensated might actually want them spent on?
posted by biffa at 9:35 AM on October 24, 2003


So password, what you're saying is that the reparations for slavery should be spent on things you choose rather than on what the people who are being compensated might actually want them spent on?

I kind of think of it like giving money to the poor crack-whore on the side of the street. If I give them money, they'll go and waste it on crack. If I offer to buy them a sandwhich (something they always refuse, go figure), then they get something useful. Yes, its my opinion that food is useful, but if the government as paying money out, then yea it should be towards something useful. A 40K mercedes is not useful when that money could be spent on education (Also, the government's money comes from taxes (mostly), right? If so, aren't black in effect paying themselves? They pay taxes and would get some of that back in the for of reperation (that is if reperations were payed out)).
posted by jmd82 at 9:49 AM on October 24, 2003


subgenius: I share your concern with both the context of the FPP and the lack of informed opinions. Swooping in with disparaging remarks without attempting to make your own contribution, however, is destructive. You refer to a "whole universe" of literature, suggesting some familiarity with said universe, but again you refuse to even link to a single source. Why not share some of that knowledge you've acquired, and at least point us towards some information that might give this discussion context? Like this, for example.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:54 AM on October 24, 2003


jmd82 :Your example might hold up if black people could be compared with crack whores. They can't however, they are free thinking individuals with their own sets of priorities, just like you. If a $40,000 mercedes is what seems useful to them, then that is what best meets their needs. If its education, its education. Their priorities, their choice, their lifestyle.
posted by biffa at 9:58 AM on October 24, 2003


Oh, and jmd82, you might want to back off the "giving money to blacks=giving money to crack whores" argument. It's insulting, and dare I say, racist.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:58 AM on October 24, 2003


I kind of think of it like giving money to the poor crack-whore on the side of the street.

Wow. Nice analogy...NOT.
posted by dash_slot- at 10:01 AM on October 24, 2003


"Three out of three Metafilter posters agree; blacks /= crack whores."
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:03 AM on October 24, 2003


MetaTalk
posted by dash_slot- at 10:10 AM on October 24, 2003


monju_bosatsu: The FPP wasn't about reparations, and adding some citations at this point isn't going to fix the thread. To the extent the FPP is really notable, it's because the "reparation rebate" is yet another tax-fraud scheme that the IRS has done a poor job of debunking.

By analogy, I once clerked for a judge who sat on a state supreme court, and our chambers were inundated with a series of letters from individuals purporting to sever the social contract with the federal government. These "sovereign citizens" of our fair state would, ostensibly, no longer be required to pay federal taxes. These people probably had legitimate grievances with the federal government (don't we all?) but the bottom line was that there is an entire body of federal caselaw showing that you can't renounce federal citizenship and federal taxation while living in the USA. I've always been fascinated with tax protesters, but I don't think that an anecdote about yet another goofy tax dodge is a good basis for discussing the reason why people may believe they're entitled to not pay taxes or, in this case, to receive windfall tax returns.

Those letters were peculiar, but the people who wrote them may have had very well-developed reasons for wanting to sever their relationship with the federal government. Not only does the article in the FPP concentrate on the tax dodge, it also features a cast of characters who appear, by turns, unintelligent, uninformed, and anti-semetic. It's hard to learn much from the article -- except it's a good idea to check with the IRS if someone tells you about a tax concept that sounds too good to be true.
posted by subgenius at 10:39 AM on October 24, 2003


I just talked to the crack whore down the street and she resents being compared to black people. She's into Skynyrd, man.
posted by 2sheets at 10:41 AM on October 24, 2003


Skynyrd aren't racists, man.
posted by jonmc at 11:04 AM on October 24, 2003


On BizarroMetafilter, the order of posts in this thread is more or less reversed, and the FPP is about Governor George Wallace and the controversial lyrics to "Sweet Home Alabama." Which have about as much to do with the issue of slavery reparations as the current FPP on tax fraud.
posted by Prospero at 11:42 AM on October 24, 2003


subgenius: Do we not do a good job discussing race simply because some of us refuse to wear hairshirts for something that occured before we were born, and in some cases, before our ancestors even arrived here? Or is it simply because we don't agree with you?

Tell me. Should I get some money for the discrimination my ancestors of German descent no doubt endured during WWI and II? What about the people of Irish descent? Italians? Where do we draw the line?

For the record, I agree with Bonzai.
posted by keswick at 11:51 AM on October 24, 2003


Sorry, when I wrote that analogy, I didn't intend for the crack whore to be compared to the blacks. My intent was to compare the giving out of money and the use of money. I did NOT mean to equate crack-whores to blacks, and it is my mistake for not making that distinction. I was agreeing with password that reperations should not be simply given out to blacks (or anybody for that matter), but rather in the form of something constructive. I simply think handing out money for reperations is a bad idea b/c the point should be to uplift the group you're helping out, and there is too much room for abuse by simply handing out x amount of money. I used the crack-whore example to point out this potential for abuse and people are reluctant to accept help in forms other than money sometimes. I did not intend to mean that black people would waste the money on crack, but I still think spending it on a Mercedes is a waste of money missing the point of reperations.
posted by jmd82 at 12:13 PM on October 24, 2003


Does anybody else think that these kinds of reparations, whatever form they took, would do immense harm to the progress that we've made on racial issues? Think of the massive resentment that it would engender (in a sizable portion of the non-black population) towards anyone with black skin.
posted by Irontom at 12:25 PM on October 24, 2003


I don't think that an anecdote about yet another goofy tax dodge is a good basis for discussing the reason why people may believe they're entitled to not pay taxes or, in this case, to receive windfall tax returns.

I agree.
posted by rushmc at 12:31 PM on October 24, 2003


That said, attempting to ascribe responsibility where there is no culpability is highly immoral.
posted by rushmc at 12:35 PM on October 24, 2003


Perhaps someday in the future white-collar crime will be engaged in by people of all colors, equally.

I foresee the advent of the dreaded and feared Benneton Brigade...but then, I'm a bit of a loon.

As to this father and daughter team...they committed a crime, got caught, the DA did her/his job and off they go to the big house. This has nothing to do with reparations, other than as a defense smoke screen.

As to the legitimacy of reparations, I've read both sides of the argument, and my personal opinion is that reparations to the descendents of slaves is bad legal precedent. As other posters have mentioned, it's a slippery slope with no visible bottom.

American Indians are still hugely disadvantaged because of things the American government did while settling the country...and the way Indian Affairs are managed currently. The Irish who emigrated here during the Potato Famine were indentured to the point of slavery. Catholics and Jews have had a history of discrimination in this country, and the horror of uprooting and putting thousands and thousands of Americans in concentration camps happened to people who are still alive. The list of people who may or may not deserve compensation from the government is so large that it would leave just 1 lonely white guy somewhere looking at a 7 trillion dollar tax bill to keep the government running.

All people of all races deserve equality. That equality doesn't come in the form of a one-time check from the government, it comes from a cultural shift, which I believe is in progress, that stops judging people based on color and creed and begins to judge on the merits of the person.
posted by dejah420 at 12:50 PM on October 24, 2003


The story itself has little to do with reparations, but some folks sure needed to make that tenuous connection. I wonder why?

But hey, so be it. Let's talk about reparations.

I find it eternally curious that the opponents of simple justice for the descendants of slavery blandly (and so unselfservingly!) assert that the damages of slavery ended with the deaths of each slave. They say: who is left to compensate? Any who suffered, so the argument goes, are surely long dead. They say: don't you know that justice begins anew with each birth? (This said...even as the newborn emerges into generations of the squalor of poverty and racism that are slavery's children). Let us therefore reject redress for any damages done so long ago. The dead are past justice.

I find it etenally curious how that same argument is never used to reject the benefits and fruits from the labor of those long dead: for example, the agricultural industries, the cotton, sugar, and tobacco. There is no rejection of the subsidiary wealth piled up by the centuries of unrequited toil Lincoln spoke of. There is no rejection of the vast infrastructure put in place through the sweat of slaves, work that continues to enrich particular Americans more than others. There is no rejection of roads, of canals, of oil and rail lines, of mining.

And consequently, there is no justice -- for dead or for living. Over time there is not even a gesture of responsibility or attempted compensation, regardless of the fact that in any amount, it is obviously simply the right thing to do.There is not even the simplest apology to the descendants of slavery...these descendants who, ironically, are really the only ones paying for the damages of slavery, while the rest of us go about enjoying the benefits.

This is the land of "business" and "free trade" -- where we greedily refuse to pay for what we took. This is the land of "justice" -- where generations of slavery's children have lived as second class citizens right up to the present day. This is the land of the "free" -- where generations of genocide's children still can't get lands promised them via scores of broken treaties. This is the home of the "brave", where we celebrate consumption -- while the families of others, who made that conspicuous consumption so possible, often go hungry.

This is America. Have faith.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 1:01 PM on October 24, 2003


I can see your argument for reperation, f&m, but I am eternally curious a) who we would pay reperations to b) how would people be able to prove they are a decendent of whomever we pay reperations to, c) where'de the money come from (the government for more debt, companies who profited, etc), d) how would reperations be paid out (straight up money, benifits, etc)?
posted by jmd82 at 1:09 PM on October 24, 2003


There is not even the simplest apology to the descendants of slavery

If Mathowie's father murdered your father, I cannot imagine an emptier or less appropriate gesture than for me to apologize to you for it.
posted by rushmc at 1:21 PM on October 24, 2003


F&M -- you're forgetting that federal and local governments have had programs in place for at least 30 years to attempt to ameliorate the effects of slavery and discrimination. You can contest how effective these programs have been, but they certainly rise to the level of a "gesture of responsibility or attempted compensation."

Think about it: minority set aside programs, busing, diversity policies in admissions and hiring situations, etc. These are all government subsidies of one kind or another, and they add up to serious $$$ over time.
posted by Mid at 1:21 PM on October 24, 2003


American Indians are still hugely disadvantaged because of things the American government did while settling the country...and the way Indian Affairs are managed currently. .

They had it bad way before this too, think about Spain setting up missions in the western part of America, talk about national religion.
posted by thomcatspike at 1:35 PM on October 24, 2003


foldie, there's nothing stopping you from making reparations. You don't have to wait for the rest of us heartless hypocrites. Go to it! Clear your conscience! You'll feel so much better!

Or would you be on the receiving end?
posted by jfuller at 1:40 PM on October 24, 2003


I'm sure this is going to get me flamed, but...

".... The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son...." (Ezekiel 18:20)

"I don’t believe in collective guilt. Only the guilty are guilty. Even the children of killers are not killers; they are children. By definition, a child is innocent unless that child does something terrible." (Elie Wiesel)
posted by keswick at 1:50 PM on October 24, 2003


zsb: Maybe when she said jews she meant native americans?

Well, there are reparations for those used as slave labor during the Nazi regime. It was class action a couple of years ago. Volkswagon, Bosch, BMW, Audi, etc are all paying.
posted by skallas at 2:50 PM on October 24, 2003


Of course in the German companies, its those who did the toil that are getting paid. Perhaps he was talking about the formation of Israel?
posted by skallas at 3:06 PM on October 24, 2003


This said...even as the newborn emerges into generations of the squalor of poverty and racism that are slavery's children

and you think a $10,000 cheque is going to solve that?

Whatever the argument, most people living in Africa today, would give their right arm to have been a descendent of a slave. I don't think you can discount the intrinsic value of living in a country with the highest per capita income in the world as opposed to some shit hole in Ghana. If you disagree then you have no idea of what basic living is all about. forget electricity, forget water from a tap, forget purchasing food from a store. this is how many rural people in Africa live - and city life is not always much better (even in south africa, a relatively wealthy country, huge numbers of people live in nothing more than lean tos. It's a tough life and those guys get nothing for free.
posted by carfilhiot at 4:39 PM on October 24, 2003


Keswick: Good point. Among other reasons, we don't do a good job of discussing race because someone is bound to do something inane like compare the treatment of Germans in WWII to 400 years of slavery. Good example.
posted by subgenius at 9:30 PM on October 24, 2003


taz, the dhartung-signal was either drowned out or confused with other light sources. Also, it was rainy and cloudy where I am. Still, I think civilization muddled along without me.

Basically, there's this IRS form for a "general business credit", which is misleading. You can't make up your own "general" credit, you have to use several very rare credits defined by Congress over the years that don't deserve their own form (there are only 9999 numbers available, you know). Some may well be hunt-for-a-loophole credits, others are more if-you-have-to-ask-you-don't-qualify. There are then these shysters who go around filing tax returns for people, for which they file "general business credit" forms, and in some cases the people know and understand that it's all a fraud and in other cases they are merely duped to go along with it. The large business credit then generates a possible claim for a tax refund check, which under the electronic filing system may be remitted to a financial institution who will in turn advance a loan to the tax filer. The bank, and the shyster preparer, both pocket a hefty "legitimate" fee for the filing and loan processing. The preparer disappears into the night. Later on, manual review of the return finds the fraud, the taxpayer is notified of their liability, and so forth. Rarely are the preparers, who are practiced at disappearing into the dark of night, prosecuted; but they're the root of the problem. Basically, they're dressing up good old-fashioned tax fraud in political terms which will appeal to their target demographic. Their customers are far less skilled at evading the long arm of the IRS and are, even if involved up to their eyeballs, cynically manipulated cannon fodder.

So, the WaPo article is heavily misleading, as no legitimate reparations movement would be interested in achieving its aims through penny-ante tax fraud. Boo, hiss on the WaPo. Talk about derailing the issue. The con artists pulling this crap have no interest in enriching their people; they're simply ripping them off more. It's disgusting to speak of the two things in the same breath.
posted by dhartung at 11:06 PM on October 24, 2003


If Mathowie's father murdered your father, I cannot imagine an emptier or less appropriate gesture than for me to apologize to you for it.

See also (for counterpoint) the controversy surrounding the Australian government's refusal to apologize for treatment of aboriginal people. Words have power, if not as much power as cold hard cash.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:11 PM on October 24, 2003


What do you think?

First thought: "Huh. Sucks to be him."

Second thought: "There's sixty comments in this thread. They've probably already moved past the whole 'tax fraud' thing so they can take turns teeing off on the idea of reparations in general. Gee, I wonder if they'll say anything stupid?"

Library's closing. No time to rehash old arguments. If you'd like, peruse some of my older posts on the subject and have your logical critiques ready by Monday, okay?
posted by tyro urge at 2:40 PM on October 25, 2003


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