By Teresa Ambord
Just a few months ago in December, actor Stephen Baldwin was arrested on charges of failure to pay state income tax in New York relating to income from 2008, 2009, and 2010. The tax debt, with interest and penalties, came to around $350,000. At that time, he was released on bail and ordered to appear back in court on March 29.
Based on a plea agreement reached March 29 in court, Baldwin will avoid jail time, but not without harsh words from Rockland County District Attorney Thomas P. Zugibe.
"This defendant withheld taxes that he was legally obligated to pay as a New York State resident," Zugibe said. "Individuals who attempt to steal from the public are stealing from the pockets of every New Yorker. Regardless of social status or income level, my office is committed to pursuing criminals who purposefully cheat the government and law-abiding taxpayers."
In spite of Zugibe's callous tone, New York tax authorities and the judge in the case have indicated Baldwin has been very cooperative and eager to clear up his obligation.
Shortly after his arrest in December, Baldwin paid $100,000 of his debt as a show of good faith that he intended to own up to his responsibility. The balance of the debt is to be paid by the date of his sentencing, July 19.
Once the debt is fully paid, Baldwin will be sentenced to a conditional discharge. If he doesn't pay off the tax bill on schedule, he'll be subject to five years' probation and monitored payments.
When asked how he got into this predicament, Baldwin said, "Unfortunately, I got some really bad suggestions and advice . . . from lawyers and accountants."
He also told reporters the only help he's getting from his family is "just support as family support. . . . The responsibility lies ultimately with myself."
Baldwin will be directing a movie called Riding Destiny that stars his brother William Baldwin. He's also appearing on All-Star Celebrity Apprentice, though all the money he earns on the show goes to charity.