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Taxes on the Silver Screen

By Suzanne Woolley, with Ben Steverman - 2013-03-20T20:35:13Z

Photograph by Paramount/Everett Collection

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Charles Martin Smith, 'The Untouchables'

Charles Martin Smith plays pipe-smoking, shotgun-toting Treasury Bureau accountant Oscar Wallace, part of the group Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) has assembled to bring down Al Capone (Robert De Niro). Wallace thinks they can get Capone on tax evasion: "He's making over $3 million a year, but he pays no taxes! Nothing's in his name! If we can establish any payments at all, we can prosecute him for tax evasion." Alas, Wallace and a would-be witness against Capone are killed by a mobster in an elevator. Eventually Ness does nail Capone on tax evasion.
Tax takeaway: The green eyeshade is mightier than the sword (or shotgun).