Celebrities and Their Tax Troubles
Hollywood and the music industry have at least one thing in common: run-ins with the IRS. Here are some high-profile examples of stars who faced tax liens and assorted problems with the taxman.
The paparazzi aren't the only problem plaguing celebrities. Taxes have bedeviled a star-studded cast of celebs who have found themselves on the receiving end of tax liens, penalties and in some cases jail time.
Currently serving jail time in Florida is actor Wesley Snipes, whose high-profile tax protests landed him in hot water with the IRS. Snipes was convicted in 2008 of three misdemeanor charges of failing to file his tax returns for three years in a row, and he began serving his three-year term in late 2010. His attorneys tried to appeal his conviction all the way to the Supreme Court, without success.
(photo by Nicolas Genin)
The Oscar-winning actor was forced to sell several of his luxury homes to pay off $14 million in back taxes. Cage sued his ex-manager and accountant for failing to pay his taxes and making poor investment choices in real estate. The accountant countersued Cage, claiming he had tried to warn the actor about his "compulsive, destructive spending," and encouraged him to sell off his luxury automobiles and $1.6 million comic book collection.
(photo by Kristin Standafer)
Country singer Willie Nelson had his assets seized by the IRS in 1990, which claimed he owed $32 million. Nelson found out that his accounting firm, Price Waterhouse, had not been paying his taxes. His attorney negotiated a settlement for $6 million with the IRS, but Nelson was forced to donate the proceeds of an album entitled, "The IRS Tapes: Who'll Buy My Memories?" to the agency to pay off his tax debts. Nelson also had to sell off many of his possessions to his friends before he finally paid off his tax debts in 1993.
(photo by Larry Philpot)
Former Fugees singer Lauryn Hill pleaded guilty in June to failing to pay taxes on more than $1.8 million in income for three years, 2005-2007. Before pleading guilty, the Grammy-winning songstress explained to her fans in a lengthy blog posting that she hadn't paid taxes because she needed to go underground in order to build a community of people, like-minded in their desire for freedom and the right to pursue their goals and lives without being manipulated and controlled by a media protected military industrial complex with a completely different agenda.
(photo by Lisa Liang)
Actor Val Kilmer faced tax debts of nearly $500,000 in early 2011, and the IRS placed a tax lien on his New Mexico ranch and other property. The "Top Gun" and "The Doors" star reportedly had to lower the asking price on the ranch from $23 million to $18.5 million, but that should have been enough to satisfy the tax authorities.
(photo by Georges Biard)
The "Crocodile Dundee" star ran afoul of the tax authorities in his native Australia after his accountant and collaborator were accused of using offshore tax havens. Hogan had moved the California, but during a visit in 2010 to attend his 101-year-old mother's funeral, authorities would not allow him to return to the United States for weeks. They were finally forced to let him go because of all the bad publicity the Australian Tax Office received after the story made headlines around the world. Hogan finally reached a confidential settlement in the eight-year-long dispute with the authorities in May of this year.
R&B singer R. Kelly reportedly owes more than $4.8 million to the IRS, not having paid his taxes since 2005. However, he is reportedly in the process of working out his tax problems with the government. The IRS filed a tax lien against him for over $837,000 last year. He has also faced foreclosure proceedings against his Chicago-area mansion.
Even five years after her untimely death at the age of 39 in 2007, the IRS is still suing the estate of model and reality TV star Anna Nicole Smith for unpaid taxes. In April of this year, the IRS filed a tax lien against her estate for over $289,00. Smith inherited a fortune after the death of oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall whom she married when he was 89 and she was 26. However, Marshall's other relatives sued her after he died 14 months later, and the case went all the way to the Supreme Court.
(photo by Toby Forage)
The IRS has filed a couple of tax liens against actress Lindsay Lohan on unpaid taxes from 2009 and 2010, amounting to over $140,000. Lohan has repeatedly landed in trouble with the law in recent years. Last year, she was charged with stealing a necklace from a jewelry store. She was sentenced to 120 days in jail, little of which she actually served. She also was sentenced to 360 hours of community service, which she fulfilled by working in the LA County morgue.
Rap singer Lil' Kim, whose real name is Kimberly Denise Jones, has been on the receiving end of a number of tax liens over the years. Her unpaid taxes from 2002-2009 amounted to over $1 million, as of February of this year. In 2005, she was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for lying to a grand jury about a shootout at a New York radio station in which her friends were involved.
(photo by Windy Jonas)
Model Christie Brinkley was the inspiration for ex-husband Billy Joel's song, "Uptown Girl." She also inspired the IRS to file a tax lien for over $530,000 against her last year. Brinkley said she had been distracted over family issues but vowed to soon pay the taxes in full.