One of the delights of living in America is the variety of local delicacies that different places champion as their own. Maine’s lobster rolls serve up a briny mouthful of golden summer tucked into a lightly-toasted bun. Wisconsin is home to amazing cheeses: milk’s bid for immortality. Nashville’s hot chicken dresses up ordinary poultry in a peacock’s bright plumage. And Cincinnati’s Greek-style chili, a thin gravy flavored with cinnamon and chocolate, sounds repulsive at first, until you taste it, close your eyes, lick your lips, and realize you’ve just touched the void.
But no city’s local specialty enjoys more fame than Philadelphia’s cheesesteak. Granted, the word “steak” is doing a lot of work here — it’s usually just a thin shaving of top round. But brown it on a griddle, scramble it with a spatula, smother it with Cheez Whiz and onions (“wiz wit”), and cover it with a hoagie roll . . . mmmm, now it’s a beloved working-class feast for those salt-of-the-earth Philly denizens who inspire the nickname, “City of Brotherly Love.”
Back in 2003, presidential candidate John Kerry embarrassed himself on a campaign stop when he asked for Swiss on his at Pat’s King of Steaks, a South Philly institution. But Pat’s crosstown rival, Tony Lucidonio — owner of the The Original Tony Luke’s — shares something in common with the Republicans who elected Kerry’s rival George W. Bush as President. He doesn’t like paying taxes. Last week, the Justice Department indicted him and his son Nicholas on charges of tax evasion, conspiracy to defraud the IRS, and aiding and assisting in filing false tax returns.
According to the indictment, from 2006-2016, Tony and Nicholas kept two sets of books to hide $8 million of top-line income. (They didn’t even tell their accountant.) As if that wasn’t enough, they cooked up a scheme to commit employment tax fraud by paying staff partly “under the table,” without withholding the proper taxes and paying them over to the IRS.
The allegation goes on to dish up the news that after a dispute with a second son, Tony Luke Jr., the pair amended their previous phony returns to report higher sales — but added new phony “cost of goods sold” expenses to avoid actually paying more tax. (Tony Jr., who has become the public face of the company, operates a dozen franchised locations as far away as Texas and Bahrain, but was not named in the indictment.)
Those are some meaty charges the IRS is serving up. Tony Sr. and Nicholas are looking at spending years in a place that doesn’t serve cheesesteaks at all. Specifically, they’re facing five years each for the conspiracy and tax evasion, plus three years more for each of the 19 false returns. That’s a lot of bland prison chow!
Naturally, their attorneys have issued the usual cheesy defense on behalf of their clients: they “look forward to defending themselves in court,” blah blah blah, and they’ll “continue to serve their faithful clientele.” But hey, it’s not like the clientele can’t find cheesesteaks anywhere else — after all, they are in Philadelphia. (And since when does anyone really “look forward” to defending themselves against criminal charges, anyway?)
The sad part is, there’s always a better recipe for paying less tax than cheating. That’s where we come in. We don’t just sell the sizzle, we deliver the steak. So call us to trim the fat from your tax bill, and enjoy some tasty savings!
Image Credits: JohnnyCalifornia / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)