When it comes to taxes and the IRS, these celebrity tax evaders had to face the consequences of not giving Uncle Sam his dues.
Celebrity Tax Evaders | 9 Famous People Who Failed to Pay Uncle Sam
1. Martha Stewart
One of the most famous celebrity tax evaders is Martha Stewart. The ultimate homemaker had to cough up $220,000 in penalties and back taxes for her lavish homes in the Hamptons. She didn’t think she had to pay them since she didn’t spend a lot of time there.
2. Teresa and Joe Giudice
The Real Housewives of New Jersey star Teresa Giudice could have been suitable for Orange Is the New Black. Together with her husband, Joe, the law indicted them in more than 35 counts of wire and mail fraud. They also pleaded guilty to three kinds of bankruptcy fraud.
Joe, in particular, didn’t file tax returns from 2004 to 2008 even though he himself said he earned about a million during the same period.
In the end, Teresa served 15 months in prison while Joe languished for 41 months. Both didn’t spend their jail time together for the sake of their children. They also needed to pay a hefty fine of over $400,000.
3. Leona Helmsley
Leona Helmsley was not the Queen of Mean for nothing. She was one of the most notorious celebrity tax evaders despite having a net worth of billions. The law convicted her of three counts of tax evasion and filing the wrong personal tax returns.
Interestingly, it was her constant disputes with contractors that uncovered her crimes. One of them revealed she was charging the home renovations as a business expense. The New York Post eventually ran the story.
4. OJ Simpson
OJ Simpson might have gotten away with the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend, Ron Goldman, but even he cannot run away from Uncle Sam forever.
The Juice officially made it to the biggest tax offenders list in California. He owed the state a whopping $1.44 million. In 2011, he had a tax lien for his failure to pay $17,015.99.
5. Nicolas Cage
To say Nicolas Cage made a lot of money is an understatement. From 1996 to 2011, he earned more than $150 million. That’s about $10 million annually in 15 years time, which isn’t shabby at all. The man, though, made it to the list of top celebrity tax evaders for a reason. He owed a staggering $6.3 million in property taxes. That shouldn’t be surprising since he once owned 15 homes, not to mention an island.
6. Lauryn Hill
Singer and songwriter Lauryn Hill spent about three months in a minimum-security prison in Connecticut for tax evasion. She owed the IRS $1.8 million in federal taxable income between 2005 and 2007. Besides this, she had unpaid federal and state taxes for 2008 and 2009. Overall, her debt piled up to reach $2.3 million.
After her release, she spent years trying to pay her liability. Talk about taxes killing her softly.
7. Wesley Snipes
There’s no doubt Wesley Snipes and the IRS have a tumultuous relationship. Back in 2008, the department charged him with three counts of misdemeanor for willfully not filing tax returns. He also didn’t pay taxes from 1999 to 2001. He spent three years in prison for this.
Serving time didn’t make his tax liability disappear, though, so he tried to work out a way to pay off his debt. Sadly, the assessments were too high, according to his belief. In 2015, he sued the IRS for such “abuse.”
8. Heidi Fleiss
Heidi Fleiss was the Hollywood Madam. She ran a prostitution ring and served some of the wealthiest people in the United States. The IRS, though, had a keener interest in her business income — and it’s a lot. On a bad night, she could pocket $10,000.
After a high-profile trial, she received a sentence for tax evasion and money laundering. In September 1996, the court sentenced her to 7 years in prison. By 1998, though, she moved to a halfway house and came out in 1999. She also rendered almost 400 hours of community service.
9. Lindsey Vonn
For the IRS, it doesn’t matter if you bring honor to the country. It’s your job to pay your taxes right. Take, for example, Lindsey Vonn, a multi-awarded World Cup skier. In 2012, the agency slapped her with a tax lien worth $1.7 million.
The good news is she spared herself from the legal trouble. She opted to pay her liability right away, although she said everything was another person’s fault.
The stories of these celebrity tax evaders should teach you one thing: tax evading is a serious offense. Your debt can haunt you even after many years. It can also land you in prison. With the IRS, honesty is the best policy. If you cannot settle your taxes, you can take advantage of the debt relief programs. Always try to be open, rather than hiding or running away from your civic responsibility. If you need tax help, get advice from professionals with your best interests in mind.
Did you experience having back taxes? What did you do? Share your stories below!