Rap singer Lauryn Hill has been released after serving three months in prison for tax charges and will serve three months of home confinement.
The singer, who was a member of the group The Fugees before launching a solo career with her Grammy-winning 1998 album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” was sentenced in July for failing to pay taxes on more than $1.8 million in federal taxes in 2005 to 2007, plus unpaid federal and state taxes in 2008 and 2009 of about $500,000 (see Fugees Singer Lauryn Hill Sentenced to Prison for Tax Evasion).
Her attorney Nathan Hochman told the Associated Press that Hill was released early in her sentence Friday based on a number of factors, including good behavior. She will start a year of probation beginning with three months of home confinement. In addition to the prison term and home confinement, the judge sentenced Hill to serve a year of supervised release and ordered her to pay a $60,000 fine in addition to her restitution to the IRS.
In addition to being a singer and actress, Hill owned and operated four S corporations, and her primary source of income was royalties from the recording and film industries. During 2005, 2006 and 2007, Hill received more than $1.8 million in income from those sources, according to prosecutors, but didn’t file her tax returns for those years. While Hill pleaded guilty to charges specifically related to those tax years, her sentence also takes into account additional income and tax losses for 2008 and 2009— when she also failed to file federal returns—along with her outstanding tax liability to the state of New Jersey, for a total income of approximately $2.3 million and total tax loss of approximately $1,006,517.
During the hearing, Hill compared her tax predicament to slavery. “I was put into a system I didn’t know the nature of,” she said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “I’m a child of former slaves. I got into an economic paradigm and had that imposed on me,” she said. “I sold 50 million units ... now I’m up here paying a tax debt. If that’s not likened to slavery, I don’t know what is.”
When Hill was originally charged by federal authorities, she wrote a lengthy explanation on her Tumblr blog of her rationale for not paying taxes, saying she had gone “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.” However, she added that she eventually hoped to straighten out her tax problems (see Lauryn Hill Explains Failure to Pay Taxes).
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