Alas, we have more evidence that the IRS loves to make examples celebrities. From Wesley Snipes to Willie Nelson, the IRS likes to pursue high profile celebrities in hopes they will scare the common man into tax compliance.
Media outlets began reporting this week that ex-Fugees singer and solo artist Lauryn Hill recently reported to a federal prison in Connecticut to begin serving a three month sentence for income tax evasion. Lauryn Hill pled guilty to evading income tax on the $1.8 million she earned between 2005 and 2007. Unpaid taxes from the 2008 and 2009 tax years were also considered in her sentencing. So what does this mean for the average non-celebrity? If you are not going to pay your income taxes, it is better if you are not famous. However, your lack of celebrity status is not a license to commit tax evasion. The IRS prosecutes many more non-celebrities each year than celebrities. The IRS just prosecutes a higher percentage of celebrities than any other segment of society.
What is the moral/point of this blog post? It is a reminder that everyone should pay their income taxes and avoid the IRS altogether. That does not mean that you should not avail yourself of all tax planning strategies available to legally reduce the amount of tax that you owe. Careful tax planning is not a crime. However, always consult a competent tax professional before entering into any tax planning. After all, it was bad advice from incompetent tax advisers that landed Wesley Snipes in jail. If, for whatever reason, you find yourself being pursued by the IRS, don’t face the IRS alone. Trust the experienced tax attorneys of the Dana Law Firm to be your advocate when dealing with the IRS.
Written by Phoenix Tax Controversy Attorney Shad Brown