Free Cheryl Singleton
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Cheryl Singleton an accountant/ tax preparer from Atlanta, Georgia is going to prison for 12.5 years(150) months for helping lower income families make legal and illegal claims to the Internal Revenue Services regarding self employed income. Most of her clients worked but they needed additional income to get them the maximum refund. Cheryl felt sorry for theses low-income families and did whatever necessary to give them a decent refund. Some of her clients were not entitled to it but she used all of their permission to make it happen. Cheryl has to pay over 4.5 million in restitution, which she neverreceived. In fact, her clients received all of it and now she is responsible for it. The only fee that Cheryl received was the preparation fees, which ranges between $99 to $500 per return.You can read more falsifying stories at the links below but above is the gist of it. There is a lot of issues about this case that bothers me but I’m only going to focus on one or two issues.
Why is she going to Prison?
Before answering the question, lets focus on the word ''prison''. In our society the word prison has ceased to capture the barbaric nature of what prison really is. Prison is a human cage. Normally, a cage usually does not rehabilitate but allow taxpayers to pay for food, shelter, and cost. A cage that is brutal and this is the reality of what we are doing. We are literally throwing human beings into metal cages and locking them in it. Ok...with that in mind lets get back to the question. Why is Cheryl going to prison? I’m not asking this from a technical or legal perspective but a moral perspective. Putting someone in a human cage is very extreme act that should be limited to very extreme crimes, such as murders, killing, etc. Cheryl's ''crime'' does not qualify, not even close (unless you work with the criminal justice family, e.g.prosecutors, special agents, etc.) but its worse than that. We are punishing many innocent people. Her family, friends and innocent taxpayers are being punished with a 35k-40k bill to cage her. And most of all, the Internal Revenue Serivce is now less likely to receive any restitution from her because of her aging. And I’m assuming she doesn't have it. Once again, she was only getting preparation fees, so how can she attempt or afford to pay anywhere near this outrageous (4.5 million dollars) amount back? Putting Cheryl in a human cage for what she did is an immoral act and society should be ashamed.
Who did she Victimize? Lets first identify who is the actual victim? Clients? They received their refund checks. If they have to pay it back, it would be only be the additional amount that they weren't entitled to. With that in mind, Cheryl put her identity and reputation at risk for helping clients which lead to 150 months of imprisonment. The main beneficiary here were her clients. An average refund for a low-income family making under $20k a year is between $2500 to $7000 dollars. Keep in mind, she only collected the preparation fees. The primary question here is, did she hurt the clients by preparing their taxes with this additional self-employed income? If the answer is no, then the clients are not victims. Did Cheryl keep clients refund checks? If the answer is no, then the clients are not victims. The clients are not victims in this case and I’m willing to bet that many clients knew about the additional self employed income that was added or they told Cheryl and didn't care. They just wanted the money. But who is suffering? Cheryl. Who’s in prison?Cheryl. Who’s not able to raise their children, if any? Cheryl. Wrong is wrong and right is right but Cheryl should not be in prison for this matter. Hypothetically, lets say Cheryl made fictitious W-2 wages from 500 fortunate companies and added income without clients knowing. This would be a deceiving matter but that is not the case here. All clients knew about self employed income and most her of clients told her that they were self employed to get the extra money (e.g. hairstylist, barber, babysitter, lawn care, etc.). Clients know how to manipulate the system and if they think added ''hair income'' is going to give them more of a refund, of course they are going to tell Cheryl they did hair or any other related self-employed income. The tax preparation companies I’ve been to make you sign affidavit(s) confirming any additional income other than W-2 wages and I’m sure Cheryl did the same.
Is the Internal Revenue Services a victim? I would say partial and partial not. These clients were entitled to a refund because they all worked and paid taxes.Yes, paying taxes doenst necessary mean that you are entitled to an refund but for the most part, I’m sure these low-income families were. Most low-income families have children which qualifies them, based on their income for earned Income Tax Credit. This is a credit that gives out you approximately $3800 per child according to your income. This is how most of the clients were eligible for a refund. If the moral response is to put Cheryl in a cage because she prepared tax returns for low income families to help them get the maximum refund, then I have a long list of well established accountants /tax preparers companies who are doing the same exact thing and need to be send to the same caged facility where Cheryl is. She owes the Internal Revenue Services some compensation for adding additional income to boost their refunds, but only the additional self employment income and not the W-2 wages amount. In this case, it appears that the government is trying to have Cheryl pay the full refund back to the Internal Revenue Services, which is not right because the clients were entitled to some sort of refund. Even though it may not be what she got them, they were entitled to something. To make her pay the full amount is ridiculous. What dollar figure that should be? I don't know but it should be something.
Unless she took clients refund, which didn't happen here, she owes the clients nothing. And most importantly, she owes no one especially society time in a cage.
What kind of criminal justice system is primarily focused on restitution? Who is the victim and what is that victim owed? Thats it. A criminal justice system that is focused on hurting or punishing people to ''teach them a lesson'' or ''pay their dedt to society'' is antiquated and barbaric. That philosophy needs to die. Lets save the human cages for real criminals, such as serial killers.
Shout out to Cheryl
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