Seven Celebrities Who Cheated on Their Taxes
Given the lack of impulse control and sense of entitlement among the celebrity set (we’re looking at you, Charlie Sheen), it should be no surprise that the famous and the powerful are among the worst tax cheats out there. Here are seven celebrities who didn’t pay the tax man, and ended up paying the price:
Snipes tried to avoid facing the music, after an alleged 17 millions dollars in tax avoidance, by claiming he was not an American citizen, but instead “non-resident alien.” That didn’t work, and the Florida-born “Blade” star began his three-year sentence for failing to file federal income tax returns in December of 2010.
Vittorio Zunino Celotto, Getty Images
The Machiavellian “Survivor” winner really goofed when he didn’t report his million-dollar prize to the IRS. Hatch ended up serving about three years in prison for tax evasion, and just got thrown in the pokey again for nine months after violating his probation by failing to file his income taxes for 2009.
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In 1990, the IRS presented legendary musician Nelson with a whopping $16.7 million tax bill, and then forced him to auction off most of his possessions to pay it. Fortunately for Willie, many of his things were bought by friends and fans, who then returned them to Nelson for free or cents on the dollar. The proceeds from these sales were able to square Nelson with the IRS, and he never spent any time in prison.
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Hotel magnate and “Queen of Mean” Leona Helmsley allegedly once said, “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.” The billionaire was wrong on that count and served 18 months in federal prison for various counts of tax evasion and mail fraud.
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Nicolas Cage currently owes the IRS close to 14 million dollars. He’s yet to be charged criminally, and is in the process of selling off his numerous estates and castles around the world so he can get straight with the tax man.
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The feds could never nab Capone for all of his bootlegging, racketeering, murder and mayhem. However, when Eliot Ness and company fond Capone’s set of double books, they were able to book the mob boss on tax evasion. Capone ended up serving about half of an eleven year sentence on the charges.
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Ja Rule, or Jeffrey Atkins to the court, is the latest member of the celebrity tax cheat club. The 35-year-old rapper plead guilty in March to failing to file tax returns. He promised to pay back 1.1 million dollars in tax debts and fines, and could get up to three years when he faces sentencing in June.
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- Contributed by Jeremy Taylor