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A Big Day for Money

By Dian Vujovich

Did you know that paper money was first used in America on Feb. 3, 1690? Apparently rocks, paper and scissors got too heavy to carry around as this new kind of currency was used to pay soldiers fighting in the war against Quebec.

Or, that today’ date is also the one that the 16th Amendment to our Constitution was ratified. In case you’ve forgotten, that Amendment authorized the power to impose and collect income taxes. Don’t feel too badly if you’ve forgotten that. Lots of people seem to forget things when it comes to taxes.

Take Tom Daschle, for instance. He’s just lost a great job because of a forgot-to-pay-the-Uncle oversight. Or our new Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. He was forgetful, too.

Those, however, aren’t the only politicos who’ve gotten into hot water for either not paying enough, forgetting to pay, or misrepresenting info on their tax returns. Remember Spiro Agnew?

It wasn’t long after he and President Nixon were elected to their second term that Spiro was fingered as a tax evader and money launderer. As a result, he resigned, was fined 10,000 big ones and sentenced to probation.

But Agnew wasn’t through with the law. In 1981, he was ordered to repay almost $300,000 back that he’d accepted in bribes.

And we can’t forget the former Democrat from Ohio, James Traficant. You’ve got to remember him for his hair if nothing else.

It wasn’t his do that got him into trouble, though. Nope. It was stuff like racketeering, filing false tax returns, taking bribes—you know, the basics.

And then there was Joseph Nunam. This guy should have known better. He was, after all, Commissioner of the IRS from 1944-1947.

Nunam was convicted of tax evasion in 1952. Part of his bad was not reporting the $1800 he’d won from a bet. The bet? That Harry Truman would win the presidential election.

That may be a short list of our elected officials who have fudged on their tax returns but errors of this fashion are nothing new—and often easily forgivable.

What follows, in no particular order, are some of the singers, actors, thugs and business people who’ve been nabbed by IRIS–that’s the name I’ve fondly given the IRS:

Judy Garland, Martin Luther King Jr., Damon Dash, Annie Liebovitz,
Joe “Girls Gone Wild” Francis, Richard Hatch, O.J Simpson, Luciano Pavarotti, Al Capone, Martha Stewart, Leona Helmsley, Willie Nelson, Boris Becker, Darryl Strawberry, Wesley Snipes, Don King, Richard Pryor, Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager, Chuck Berry, Alan Freed, Sophia Loren, Gordon Ramsay, Buster Keaton and Marc Anthony.

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