Detroit, Michigan , United States
|| January 12, 1949
Aug 04, 2009 11:13pm
|Info||Early Years |
Tom Barrow was born January 12, 1949 to Albert (“Big Red”) and Mattie Barrow in Detroit at the long since closed Negro-only Kirwood Hospital located on Kirby at John R Streets. Robert Bennett, who delivered Tom, was also the personal physician for family member and heavyweight champion Joe Louis Barrow. The boxer paid for Tom’s birth and hospital expenses, hence Tom’s middle name Joe. The family included two brothers and one sister, who is now the matriarch of the family.
Born in what was then called Black Bottom, Tom grew up on Hurlbut Street on Detroit’s east side. His boyhood home at 1597 Hurlbut no longer stands today. Tom went to kindergarten at Detroit Public School’s Howe Elementary which is still there today on Garland Street at Charlevoix, adjacent to the historic Dr. Otis Sweet home.
Barrow left Howe Elementary to attend first through 12th grade at Annunciation Catholic School on Parkview Street in Detroit, graduating in 1967. Tom spent 15 years as an altar boy at Annunciation Church.
Upon getting his high school diploma, Tom graduated from Wayne State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1971, with a concentration in accounting. After graduation, Tom joined the Detroit accounting firm of Arthur Andersen & Co. where he remained for six years while becoming a CPA in 1973. Tom left Arthur Andersen to begin his own firm, Barrow, Aldridge & Co., public accounting firm. The firm grew to become the largest minority-owned firm in the Midwest, and arguably in the United States servicing clients such as the City of Detroit; emerging entrepreneurs like Bing Steel; and training hundreds of minority and women CPAs and accountants.
Tom went back to school and earned his masters in business administration degree from Wayne State University in 1979, with a concentration in finance.
Early Success and Recognition
Tom’s firm continued to grow, and in 1978, he was appointed by then Michigan Governor William Milliken to the state Board of Accountancy, becoming its first. African-American and youngest board member. This state agency was responsible for licensing all CPAs. Tom remained a member of that Board and rose to become its youngest and first African-American chairman.
In the ‘80s, Tom was active in the Detroit and accounting communities through a variety of leadership positions. They included:
* National Association of Black Accountants, Detroit Chapter -- member, later president
* National Association of Black Accountants – national president
* National Association of State Boards of Accountancy – member
* Boy Scouts of America -- advisory board member
* Advisory Board to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue – member
* Michigan Association of CPAs – member
* National Association of Accountants – member
* Citizens for Detroit’s Future – president
* New Center Hospital – board member, later chairman
* Central City Health Services – board member, later chairman
* The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants – member
Barrow’s Political Aspirations
Tom ran against Coleman A. Young for Mayor of Detroit in the 1985 and 1989 primaries. In the 1989 primary, he defeated City Council President Erma Henderson and Congressman John Conyers to meet incumbent Mayor Coleman Young in the General Election run-off. Tom earned 44% of the final vote.
In 1993, a federal jury found Barrow guilty of tax evasion and fraud, and he served 18 months in prison. But Tom did not stop fighting the Internal Revenue Service over matters stemming from his conviction, and he scored what many observers call an unusual victory in U.S. Tax Court. Judge Mark V. Holmes issued an opinion that supported Barrow's contentions that he was convicted because of lies and deliberate mistakes by the IRS.
On November 25, 2008, the United States Tax Court issued its decision in Thomas J. Barrow v IRS Commissioner, 14551-02, in which it held that it found no fraud on the part of Barrow or his accounting firm surrounding tax years 1984, 1986, 1988 and 1989. While acknowledging that the civil tax court could not overturn his conviction directly, the tax court held that the United States government (IRS) had made “startling” admissions which call into distinct question the validity of the conviction years of 1985, 1987 and 1988. In a direct rebuke, the court closed for any assessment the years for which Barrow had been wrongfully convicted, essentially validating the conviction’s falsity.
With the Tax Court opinion as ammunition, on December 17, 2007, Barrow filed a request with the United States District Court seeking to invalidate the convictions entirely based on the discovery of the agents’ deceit and the tax court admissions by IRS agents that they had plugged his records and had calculated false deficiencies. Tom currently awaits complete and final vindication from the District Court.
Tom Barrow Today
Despite the injustice of a wrongful conviction, Tom has spent the last 15 years quietly rebuilding his reputation and raising his family. He runs the Barrow, Aldridge accounting practice and Fidelity Refunding Services and participates in three Detroit family businesses with his brother and sister.
Barrow is married and lives on Detroit’s east side with his wife, Patrice, teenage daughter Taylor and nine-year-old son Tom Jr.