Actor Stephen Baldwin was arrested Thursday for failure to pay state taxes in New York for the past three years. TMZ reported that the 46 year-old actor was arrested in Rockland County for failure to file tax returns for the years 2008, 2009 and 2010. Stephen owes the state over $350,000, and could be sentenced up to four years in prison if convicted of the felony charge. But Baldwin’s brother Alec came to his defense by speaking to Piers Morgan. He tried to put a positive spin on the situation and claims he doesn’t think his brother will see any jail time. Stephen Baldwin seems to think his financial troubles that result from his lack of work in Hollywood, stem from his religious conversion.
District Atty. Thomas Zugibe said, “At a time when Rockland County and New York State face severe fiscal shortfalls, we cannot afford to allow wealthy residents to break the law by cheating on their taxes”.
He added, “The defendant’s repetitive failure to file returns and pay taxes over a period of several years contributes to the sweeping cutbacks and closures in local government and in our schools”.
Baldwin's attorney, Russell Yankwitt, said, “Mr. Baldwin did not commit any crimes, and he's working with the district attorney's office and the New York State Tax Department to resolve any differences”, as reported by The L.A. Times.
Stephen Baldwin, who’s due back in court in February, has faced financial troubles before. “The Usual Suspects” actor filed for bankruptcy protection back in 2009.
Older brother Alec Baldwin, star of “30 Rock”, appeared on the “Piers Morgan Tonight” show last night where he defended his brother and his tax problems. “I know that he's in a negotiated settlement”, Alec said.
Alec alluded to the paparazzi as the culprit in the his brother’s legal troubles. He indicated that it was media outlets that “tilted” the story in order to sell copies, and increase online hits, according to E! News.
He also took a shot at the D.A. by inferring that they made a spectacle out of the situation on purpose, perhaps as a way to set an example to others. Alec claimed the situation was already being handled, but that they paraded his brother Stephen out for a show.
“…they've got to shake him down, and they've got to make him walk that gauntlet because that's their procedure, even though steps have been made to begin the process of remediating that money, and down payments have been made”, Alec said. He went on to say that in his opinion, making too much money or not enough, are equally easy ways for people to get into tax trouble.
Stephen apparently spent money that he had put aside and separated out for future taxes. People in high-income tax brackets typically are required to pre-pay their taxes by sending in “estimated” amounts based on their income.
Perhaps Stephen’s financial woes are a direct result of his religious awakening a decade ago. He told the San Francisco Gate recently that he’s essentially “blackballed” in Hollywood due to his faith. Baldwin became a born-again Christian after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
He’s convinced his devotion to Christianity has cost him his Hollywood career. Producers are hesitant to hire him because they see his faith as being too controversial.
Stephen told “Good Morning America”, “I had a casting director come up to me two years ago and say, ‘I’m really sorry because I’ve brought your name up in castings for a while now and they all just look at me like I’m crazy’”.
When asked about the media in general, Alec Baldwin went on to say, “My attitude is that the business would be infinitely better if all of them were gone. If I could push a button tomorrow and flush them all down some swirling sewer vortex, I would do it. Where's the button? Hand it to me now”.
“His problem as of today is being cleared up”, Alec concluded to Morgan, “but they did drag him through that mud today”.