Rapper and actor DMX was sentenced to one year in prison for tax fraud for evading taxes from 2010 to 2016.

DMX, whose real name is Earl Simmons, was accused of concealing millions of dollars in income from the Internal Revenue Service and avoided paying $1.7 million of tax liabilities. He pled guilty last November, before United States District Judge Jed S. Rakoff, who imposed sentence on him Wednesday.

Rapper DMX, aka Earl Simmons
Rapper DMX, aka Earl Simmons Photo by Elvert Barnes (Flickr: 02.DMX.DCS.WDC.28jul06) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

“Earl Simmons, the recording artist and performer known as DMX, stole from the American taxpayers when he earned millions of dollars but failed to pay any taxes on his income,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement. “Today’s sentence shows that star power does not entitle people to a free pass.  Together with our partners at the IRS, we will vigorously enforce our tax laws to make sure that people pay their fair share.”

Along with a year of prison, DMX, 47, of Yonkers, N.Y., was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $ 2,292,200 in restitution to the IRS.  His attorneys had asked for him to play his music before sentencing was imposed. DMX was allowed to perform one of his songs, "Slippin'" He admitted his wrongdoing, according to the Associated Press, and said he "wasn't following the rules." But he insisted it wasn't planned. "I never went to the level of tax evasion where I'd sit down and plot ... like a criminal in a comic book."

DMX worked as a recording artist, performer and actor. Starting in 1997, he released a series of hip-hop albums that sold millions of copies. Many of his albums went platinum and to the top of the record charts. During his career, he performed at venues across the country and around the globe, and has acted in movies.

Thanks to the income he earned from sources including recordings and performances, from 2002 through 2005 he incurred federal income tax liabilities of approximately $1.7 million.  Those liabilities went unpaid, and in 2005, the IRS started trying to collect. 

From 2010 through 2015, DMX earned more than $2.3 million, but didn’t file personal income tax returns. Instead, he maintained a largely cash lifestyle, avoiding the use of a personal bank account, and using the bank accounts of nominees, including his business managers, to pay personal expenses. For example, he received hundreds of thousands of dollars of royalty income from his recordings, but had income deposited in the bank accounts of his managers, who then distributed it to him in cash or used it to pay his personal expenses.

He also appeared on the “Celebrity Couples Therapy” reality TV show in 2011 and 2012 and was paid $125,000 for his appearances. When taxes were withheld from the check for the first installment of that fee by the producer, DMX refused to tape the rest of the TV series until the check was reissued without withholding taxes.

He also took other steps to hide his income from the IRS and others, including by filing a false affidavit in U.S. Bankruptcy Court that listed his income as “unknown” for 2011 and 2012, and as $10,000 for 2013.  DMX received hundreds of thousands of dollars of income in each of those years.

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Accounting Today content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access