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Celebrity Tax-Dodgers Keep the IRS Busy

Roll out the red carpet. The 2010 tax season will probably introduce a star-studded cast of tax evaders, many of whom are already on the IRS’s blacklist.


These celeb tax dodgers help contribute (at least in a small way) to what the IRS estimates to be a $290 billion tax gap—the difference between what’s reported and what’s owed, according to latest data.

Check out who among the elite of the silver screen, television screen and radio waves is hiding from Uncle Sam in the limelight.

Val Kilmer: Even Iceman can’t outmaneuver the IRS. The actor, whose mug has been on the screens with Top Gun, Batman and Heat, among other Hollywood blockbusters, faces a $500,000 lien against his 6,000-acre New Mexico ranch for unpaid 2008 taxes. That comes less than a year after Kilmer settled another $538,858 of owed taxes. To help square away his latest debt, Kilmer discounted the price tag on his ranch to $18.5 million from $23 million (and from an original asking price of $33 million).

Richard Hatch: Federal prosecutors in Rhode Island want to throw the former “Survivor” winner back behind bars for allegedly violating the terms of his three-year supervised release when he refused to file amended tax returns for 2000 and 2001.

Associated Press

Hatch, convicted in 2006 for failing to pay taxes on the $1 million in the show’s prize money, already spent three years in jail from 2006 to 2009, and he still owes about $1.7 million in back taxes. The reality-TV star claims he didn’t re-file because he has an appeal pending in the U.S. Tax Court. The argument apparently doesn’t hold water for the Assistant U.S. Attorney, whose directive could leave Hatch serving up to two more years in the hole. Suddenly, those long-ago trials on that tiny Malaysian island are looking like a walk in the park.

Nas: The IRS hopes the latest $6.46 million lien against the hip-hop star will put a wrap on his deadbeat filing habits. Beyond the bad blood he’s established with the IRS, the rapper is widely known for his years-long feud with rival hip-hop artist Jay-Z. Nas’s hefty bill adds three separate liens filed since 2009, the oldest of which is filed against a Georgia home. Even the rapper’s Queens condominium association has smacked the artist with a $3,860 lien for failing to pay his $420 monthly assessment since last January.

Wesley Snipes: As if ruffling the IRS wasn’t enough, the Blade-trilogy star’s failed attempt to remain free on bail roused the U.S. Marshal’s office last month to haul him to prison to start his three-year sentence for tax evasion.  In 2006 Snipes was charged with trying to illegally collect a $7.3 million tax refund, and for failure to file returns from 2000 to 2005. Just two years later the actor was convicted of willful failure to file three income tax returns. Prosecutors argued the actor has ducked taxes since 1999 on income of more than $38 million.

Leona Helmsley once said, “Only the little people pay taxes.” Readers, do you think celebs believe their “bigness” exempts them from ponying up money for Uncle Sam like the rest of us? Should courts dole out harsher sentences to the rich and famous?


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    • not necessarily “harsher” than what would be levied against non-celebrity citizens, but definitely NOT given any special treatment. btw, how many of these tax-dodgers are among the Hollywood elite that whine about the need for infinite social programs? …..just sayin

    • The IRS is and acts as a crimal enterprise. It does not serve any purpose to the people, other than to enslave. We recieve absolutly no benefit from the federal tax. It only serves the Politicians and the Federal Reserve in their pursuit of criminal actiivity against the taxpayer at large. Americans are Tax Slaves…

    • Isn’t it revealing that the same people who trumpet loudly about social responsibility and promote extreme liberal ideas (and presidents) that strap taxpayers with tax bills of epic proportions are the same people who dodge paying taxes on the wasteful agenda they promote. It is also worth pondering that this attitude of being above the law is shared equally between degenerate Hollywood and corrupt Congress.

    • The elitist crowd, which includes hollywood celebs and Washington DC political types, are convinced that they are above taxes and the laws. Unfortunately most of the time they do get preferential treatment, not harsher sentences! Heck, I would take “censure” for not paying my taxes..oh pleeeeze. As long as they are socializing with the lawmakers (didn’t Jennifer Lopez and hubby just go to a superbowl party at the whitehouse?) they will continue to enjoy their special status. Money makes the world go around people, when you can donate millions to the prez, you too will enjoy exemption from the rules the “little people” have to abide by. Stop supporting hollywood and they won’t have the $$ for all that leverage.

About The Tax Blog

  • The Tax Blog brings together a team of award-winning tax journalists from the Dow Jones network and around the web to examine the tax issues, changes and legislation that affect families, investors and small business owners. Our contributors include Tax Report columnist Laura Saunders (WSJ), Tax Guy columnist Bill Bischoff and senior reporter Jilian Mincer (SmartMoney.com), retirement-focused reporter Anne Tergesen (WSJ), wealth management writer Arden Dale (Dow Jones Newswires), TaxWatch columnist Eva Rosenberg and personal finance reporter Andrea Coombes (MarketWatch), and reporter Alyssa Abkowitz (SmartMoney). They’ll provide the latest news and insight, mine the tax code for tips and loopholes, and answer your questions about tricky tax situations. Contact the The Tax Blog with ideas, suggestions or tax questions at thetaxblog@dowjones.com.