The rap singer DMX was arrested and charged with tax fraud for allegedly evading $1.7 million in taxes.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, along with the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation unit, accused the 46-year-old performer Thursday of engaging in a scheme to conceal millions of dollars in income from the IRS from 2002 to 2005. During that period, DMX, whose real name is Earl Simmons, earned over $2.3 million in income from his recordings, along with appearances on reality TV series such as Celebrity Couples Therapy.

“For years, Earl Simmons, the recording artist and performer known as DMX, made millions from his chart-topping songs, concert performances and television shows,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim in a statement. “But while raking in millions from his songs, including his 2003 hit ‘X Gon’ Give it to Ya,’ DMX didn’t give any of it to the IRS. Far from it, DMX allegedly went out of his way to evade taxes, including by avoiding personal bank accounts, setting up accounts in other’s names and paying personal expenses largely in cash. He even allegedly refused to tape the television show ‘Celebrity Couples Therapy’ until a properly issued check he was issued was reissued without withholding any taxes. Celebrity rapper or not, all Americans must pay their taxes, and together with our partners at the IRS, we will pursue those who deliberately and criminally evade this basic obligation of citizenship.”

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

Prosecutors claimed he maintained a “cash lifestyle” by avoiding the use of a personal bank account. Instead he used his business managers’ bank accounts to pay many of his personal expenses. When he received hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties from his music, he allegedly had the income deposited into his managers’ bank accounts, who then disbursed it to him in cash or used the money to pay DMX’s personal expenses. When he appeared on Celebrity Couples Therapy in 2011 and 2012, he was supposed to be paid $125,000. But when the show’s producer withheld taxes from the check for the first installment of the fee, DMX allegedly refused to tape the rest of the show until the check was reissued without withholding taxes.

DMX’s attorney Murray Richman was not available to comment, but told NBC News that his client had been “charged over the failure of others to do what he hired them to do.”

DMX pleaded not guilty Friday and told reporters outside the courtroom that his faith and fans would help him keep his career on track, according to the Associated Press. "It's allowed me to not be scared of the situation and face it head-on, you know what I'm saying? My life is in God's hands."

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Michael Cohn

Michael Cohn

Michael Cohn, editor-in-chief of AccountingToday.com, has been covering business and technology for a variety of publications since 1985.