You would think that after selling 8 million copies of her debut album, Lauryn Hill would not mind paying tax. Once hailed as the face of hip-hop and revered for her soulful singing voice, Hill has now joined the list of star tax evaders.
Hill failed to file $1,6 million (about R13 million) over three years to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS). She is listed as owning four companies all affiliated to her recording career. She apparently still earns money from her royalties from the sale of her two albums. Hill is scheduled to appear before a federal magistrate court on 29 June. She could face a maximum penalty of a year in prison and a R847 000 fine on each charge.
Hill issued a statement on the claims she had failed to pay her taxes.
"I did not deliberately… abandon any responsibilities, but I did however put my safety, health and freedom and the freedom, safety and health of my family first over all other material concerns! I also embraced my right to resist a system intentionally opposing my right to whole and integral survival.”
Hill said she attempted to negotiate with tax officials about her missing tax returns, however they decided to prosecute instead.
“Obviously, the danger I faced was not accepted as reasonable grounds for deferring my tax payments, as authorities, who despite being told all of this, still chose to pursue action against me, as opposed to finding an alternative solution,” she said.
“My intention has always been to get this situation rectified. When I was working, and when I was making substantial amounts of money, I always filed and paid my taxes. This only stopped, when it was necessary to withdraw from society, in order to guarantee the safety and well-being of myself and my family.”
Several A-listers have been known to avoid the tax man. These include:
1. Wesley Snipes – R110 million
2. Method Man – R280 000
3. Lil’Kim – R8,4 million
4. Lindsay Lohan – R800 000
5. Lil Wayne – R50 million
6. Chris Tucker – R127 million
7. Pamela Anderson – R5 million
8. Khloe Kardashian – R152 000
9. Don King – R8,4 million
10. Martha Stewart – R1,8 million
According to the president of the Tax Resolution Services, Brian Compton, celebrities get into trouble with the tax man for the same reason normal people do. "They fail to file returns, or they file returns that are significantly false."
"The IRS loves to make examples of celebrities, putting their heads on the proverbial pike as a warning to the rest of us: Pay your taxes!" said expert in celebrity tax troubles, Roni Deutch.
Sources: money.howstuffworks.com www.suntimes.com www.boston.com www.taletela.com