Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Tax Fraud on Film

Right now, the American religious Jewish community's big domestic story (the big international one, of course, being Barack Hussein Obama throwing Israel under the bus on the eve of Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit to Washington) is the sentencing in Iowa of filmmaker Wendy Runge to 10 years for tax fraud in connection with claiming false tax credits for films she shot (or, apparently in some cases, didn't shoot) in Iowa. Everyone seems to be portraying Wendy as a naïve victim of circumstance, and suggesting, none too subtly, that anti-Semitism played a role in the sentence.

Yes, I do believe that the sentence is a bit on the stiff side. And, having grown up in an environment where Jewish people were in the minority, I am fully aware of the mechanics of anti-Semitism in places away from dense Jewish populations, and cannot totally eliminate it as a possible element. One take on this all, with which I largely but not totally agree, is an "Open Letter" in the 5 Towns Jewish Times by Rabbi Binyamin Goldfarb.

It must be remembered that Wendy seems to have a sense of entitlement to swindle the government. She has shown no credible contrition. And it is not just Wendy! We have had lots more, from diverse quarters of the so-called "religious" Jewish world (you have read them, and I shall not now glorify them by linking to them). As mentioned elsewhere, they may be insular, but they are not more religious than I am. Jewish law prohibits stealing, even when the victim is a sovereign government or an insurance company.

Hardly a week, and nary a fortnight, passes without some sort of entreaty in the snail mail, e-mail or in person to help some poor, hapless religious Jewish boy (or, now that Wendy is going to the slammer, girl), from a fine family, who is unjustly incarcerated because he or she didn't comprehend the complexities of the tax laws. And quite frankly, I am tired of it! Might all of the money the Jewish community contributes to these tax and revenue cheats be put to better use in feeding, clothing and sheltering some poor and needy Jewish individuals and families who obey the law?

So let's compare Wendy's sentence to some other recent ones (I haven't the time to do any detailed research on this):

Roger Waldner, who swindled more than $1.7 million in a bankruptcy proceeding, got a 120 month sentence (that's 10 years, for the mathematically-challenged).

And, on 17 May 2011, the very same day Wendy got her sentence imposed, Dr. Mark E. Hopkins, who caused the IRS a tax loss in excess of $2.1 million, was sentenced in a different court by a different judge to 120 months (10 years) in prison.

The sentence imposed upon Wendy Weiner Runge, who cheated the State of Iowa out of about $1.9 million in tax credits, may well be harsh. But it certainly is in the ballpark as far as prison sentences go.

I have long been a firm believer in the maxim that if you cannot do the time, then don't do the crime!

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