With the April tax deadline having safely passed, most law-abiding citizens will have fought their way through the forms and ever-changing rules once more and somehow made it – yet again – just in time. Phew! But there are some – quite a few celebrities actually – who don’t even bother. Whether claiming to not reside at their residence, living in a different state or being a legal alien altogether, many celebrities come up with weird excuses when it comes to evading taxes.
1. Wesley Snipes
Actor Wesley Snipes was sentenced to three years in prison for failing to file his taxes for five years, from 1999 to 2004. Unlike some celebrities below who simply claimed to have “forgotten” about paying taxes, Snipes tried to make the IRS believe he’s a resident alien (as if they don’t have to pay tax, just by the way) but being born in Florida, that’s hard to do. Snipes appealed and is free on bail for the time being but still needs to pay $17 million in taxes, plus interest and penalties. A truly alien tale.
2. Willie Nelson
Singer Willie Nelson, instead of coming up with lame excuses when being slapped with a charge of $16.7 million in back taxes in 1990, decided to do what he does best to get out of this sticky situation: sing. After the IRS had seized most of his assets to cover the amount and Nelson still fell short, he released the double album The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories? Needless to say, all proceeds went straight to the IRS and Nelson eventually paid off his tax debts. Most of Nelson’s stuff that the IRS auctioned off also came back to him: Most were purchased by fans who were only too happy to help the singer out and return his things back to him. What a happy ending.
3. Nicolas Cage
As of 2009, actor Nicolas Cage owed more than $6.6 million in back taxes from 2007. Claiming to be “just a victim,” the actor put the blame on his financial manager’s negligence. He in turn blamed the actor’s “reckless spending habits”. But all the excuses and mudslinging didn’t help – the IRS and the state of Nevada foreclosed on Cage’s multimillion-dollar home in Las Vegas in November of last year. Far from being homeless, Cage simply moved into one of his other homes. Oh, celebrity problems!
4. Annie Leibovitz
Compared to those stately sums, photographer Annie Leibovitz’s outstanding federal tax amount of $2.1 million doesn’t seem that much, given that she probably makes that much taking just a few pictures of the rich and famous. She also owes $250,000 in New York state taxes.
Professionally, we haven’t really heard much from comedian Sinbad, aka David Atkins, who was all the rage in the ‘80s and ‘90s. He’s been in the news though for owing the state of California $2.5 million in personal income tax. We’re sure that’s not the kind of publicity he was looking for.
6. Marc Anthony
Also in the $2.5-million-range of tax debts is singer Marc Anthony. He got slapped with that amount for failing to pay taxes from 2000 to 2004, a time period when his earnings were $15.5 million. Anthony feigned ignorance, claiming that he thought his accountant had filed taxes. Because Anthony paid up promptly and no intention to cheat could be proven, all charges were dropped. Back to la vida loca then for the singer and his wife Jennifer Lopez?
7. Dionne Warwick
Adding further to California’s budget deficit is singer Dionne Warwick who owes the state $2.2 million in personal income tax. At least she can claim to be in the Top Ten – of California’s 250 worst tax debtors that is.
8. Snoop Dogg
Singer Snoop Dogg, known for his antics, can add another title to his repertoire: tax evader. That too the second time in a row. Last year, the rapper owed the state of California $284,000; now the amount has grown to $598,000. No sign of payment yet.
9. Pamela Anderson
The busty Baywatch-star recently got busted for not paying her personal income tax in California. The amount in question: $493,000. We’re sure a few photo shoots or ad revenues should cover that in no time.
Rounding up our Top Ten is Prince. The singer formerly known as Prince is now also known as a tax evader. At least his management company is – it owes the state of Minnesota around $450,000 in state taxes. We’re sure releasing some of the songs in his vault would cover this small sum – compared with the previous ones – very quickly.