I continue to be flabbergasted over the peddling of "original artwork", limited-edition prints, Survivor t-shirts and most recently added "Jodi-bands" by convicted murderer Jodi Arias - all being done out in the open while she is behind bars awaiting sentencing for the 2008 murder of 30 year old Travis Alexander. While the sales are nothing new, it nags at me that now that Arias HAS been convicted of murder it seems nobody or nothing prohibits her from continuing these activities.
40 states have some sort of "Son of Sam" law that should prevent convicted murderers from cashing in on their notoriety - Arizona has similar laws, yet it seems that the State Attorney's office is not interested in Arias' online ventures. In a November 17, 2013 article on myfoxphoenix.com, Fox 10's legal analyst Brian Foster said of Arias "I think she is pushing the law as far as she can both with her murder trial in her defense and now selling this artwork". The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office is in charge of Jodi Arias, and they claim that although they'd like to put a stop to it, there is only so much they can do. I have a hard time believing that.
Myfoxphoenix asked County Attorney Bill Montgomery his thoughts on Arias selling artwork online, and they were told "there was nothing here right now that indicates a violation of the law". So if the Sheriff's office and County Attorney's office isn't concerned that Jodi Arias is making money off of her murderous notoriety, who might? The murder of Travis Alexander should not be used as a financial platform for his killer - yet it has. Jodi Arias was a waitress who would not have been known to the world had she not killed Travis Alexander, exactly the type of crime that the Son of Sam Laws were enacted for.
If the MCSO and County Attorney's offices aren't interested in the money Arias & Co. are taking in through these numerous sources, perhaps the IRS would be? What about the Arizona tax board? I'd love to know how Jodi Arias, who insists neither she or her family is "profiting from the arts sales", and has tweeted about her plans to file for bankruptcy drummed up enough cash to pay an attorney to set up the JAA Appellate Trust Fund. Setting up such a trust isn't rocket science, but it does require some legal help. As you probably know, setting this up as an irrevocable trust means once you donate to this fund you can never get your money back. It's unclear how much money has been donated to this fund, or how much money Arias has collected from the sales of her artwork, limited edition doodles, jodibands or her Survivor t-shirts. If you recall, it was only at her sentencing phase speech that she declared 100 percent of the proceeds from sales would be donated to causes related to battered women. I know for a fact that prior to her multi-media style speech to that Arizona jury that her website said "a portion of the proceeds" would be donated to these shelters. A PORTION...which technically could mean 1/2 of 1%. I wholeheartedly believe she changed this to be 100% of the proceeds because she wanted to make herself look more philanthropic. Pure and simple trial tactic.
By setting up this JAA Appellate Fund, Arias is attempting to shield any monies from future liens, lawsuits filed by Travis Alexander's family and her own creditors. SURELY Jodi has collected enough money to file for bankruptcy by now. Arias may think she is the smartest inmate in history, since she continues to mock the justice system and the Alexander family by selling this murderbilia from her jail cell. I am baffled that Sheriff Joe is letting these activities continue on his watch. So much for being labeled "the toughest Sheriff in the country". Arias may be hiding her exploits in legal loopholes for now, but there IS one government entity that even she cannot hide from. The Internal Revenue Service. Jodi Arias IS running a business by selling her artwork. The money she has collected from the sale of these arts and crafts (and I use the word "art" loosely) is taxable income. As such, she has to pay taxes on this money. From the IRS website:
What is taxable?
All income from auctions, traditional or online and consignment sale is generally taxable unless certain exemptions are met. This income is generally considered either "business" or "ordinary" income. In certain circumstances such income can qualify for taxable gain treatment.
Business income resulting from auction or consignment sales is subject to the same taxes as the income of any other retail or service business. That may include income tax, self employment tax or excise tax. A retail or business owner must include this income in his or her business income. A person must include a gain from a sale whether he or she operates a business or not. A reportable gain is the income above the original cost or basis for the item. These gains may be business gains or capital gains.
Income resulting from auctions akin to an occasional garage sale is generally not required to be reported. However, if an online garage sale turns into a business with recurring sales and purchasing of items for resale, it may be considered an online auction business (limited-edition prints? jodibands?). Some people sell a product or a service online as a hobby. This income generally must be reported and deductible expenses are limited.
There you have it. I'd be curious to know if Jodi Arias has filed tax returns for the years of 2008 through 2013. Inmates are not exempt from filing tax returns when they have taxable income just because they are incarcerated. She most certainly has taxable income. The real problem is that Arias has been allowed to run amok unchallenged for the last 5 years while her legal drama was waiting to unfold. Although it would be difficult to get an exact accounting of how much money has been donated to Jodi Arias and then siphoned off to her family or friends, a good forensic accountant should be able to track the items that have been sold online. Arias' inability to keep her pie-hole shut will ultimately be her undoing. She has been publicly advertising what's up for sale in a very public way via Twitter and her various websites.
In a previous post, I was able to make an educated guess about how many limited edition prints of her Picasso Calla Lillies and Sailing at Sunset she has sold by simply noting how many her site say remain for sale. She had 100 of each originally @ $39.00 a piece. Today, her site says there are still 66 limited edition prints of her "Sailing at Sunset" and 89 "Picasso Calla Lillies" up for sale. A little basic math tells us that she's sold 34 of one and only 11 of the other, or a total of 45 at $39.00 each. That's $1,755.00 for this venture alone, and we know there was a flurry of art sales on eBay before they shut down the sales due to public outrage. We all know she's taken in thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars, all the while claiming she lacks the funds to file for bankruptcy or help pay for her own legal fees. This woman has got nerve.
The donations she receives to her commissary account have undoubtedly kept her well fed and well read during her stay at Sheriff Joe's place. It seems to me that Arizona needs to amend their Son of Sam laws to account for the likes of Jodi Arias, a name that meant little until June 9, 2008 when Travis Alexander was found murdered in his own home. I have faith that the Alexander family will file a wrongful death suit against Arias once the criminal proceedings have concluded. My fear is that Arias has a huge head start in hiding this money, or diverting it to a irrevocable trust that nobody can touch or funneling it through family or friends on the outside. This is exploitation and pure greed as Arias strikes while the iron is hot.
But all things must come to an end, and Jodi Arias' days in the Estrella jail are numbered. Her sentencing retrial date is approaching and with any luck there will be no more delays. Travis Alexander would have been 36 years old had he not met Jodi Arias. He may have had a wife and children by now, and there's no telling what he may have accomplished with his life. Jodi Arias' own words came back to bite her once before, with her "no jury will convict me" prediction before her trial. I hope she keeps posting comments online, they prove she was operating a business and has taxable income that she probably hasn't paid taxes on or reported. The totality of her words and her actions show absolutely zero remorse or humility, just pure greed and a lust for infamy.