Big Name Celebrity Tax Evaders

Tax evasion?! Celebrities wouldn’t possibly think of committing such a heinous crime with mountains of cash in their banks … would they? It turns out culprits of tax evasion come in many shapes and sizes. While there will always be cases of those among the general public circumventing the law, it almost feels as if it’s more prevalent among celebrities. Perhaps it’s because celebrity activity is magnified. Perhaps it’s because the amount owed is always astonishing.  Or perhaps it’s because they actually do have a knack for evading taxes. Regardless of the reason, this list of celebrity tax evaders is definitely fascinating.

Michael Sorrentino

Jersey Shore’s Michael “The Situation” Sorrentino and his brother were indicted with a tax fraud charge in April of 2017. According to federal prosecutors, the brothers filed fake tax returns and claimed luxury cars and clothing purchases as business expenditures. Michael Sorrentino was charged with tax evasion, avoiding reporting requirements, and providing false records. However, it wasn’t the first time they’ve been in tax trouble. Previous allegations against the pair included a refusal to pay taxes on an approximate $8.9 million earned from 2010 – 2012. According to the U.S. attorney’s office for the district of New Jersey, Michael Sorrentino could face 10 years for structuring bank deposits, 5 years for tax evasion, and 20 years for obstruction.

O.J. Simpson

O.J. Simpson has seen his fair share of court rooms and is no stranger to the law. He’s currently serving a 33 year prison sentence for armed robbery and kidnapping, but his troubles don’t stop there. Simpson has been in tax trouble since 2000, and his latest tax lien finally put him over $500,000 in debt to our government.

Lindsey Vonn

In 2010 Lindsey Vonn received her gold medal in the downhill event at the Vancouver Olympics. Unfortunately in that same year, she received a tax bill from the IRS of just over $1.7 million. She quickly released a statement explaining that she was wrong to rely on someone else to file her tax return for her. She may have represented her country as an athlete, but she certainly forgot to pay them what she owed.

Lil Kim

Lil Kim ran into problems with the IRS in late 2009, owing money every year from 2002-2009. TMZ reported that her total owed was over $1,000,000. However, a representative from Lil Kim’s team noted that the rap superstar has hired professional tax attorneys to solve the issue with the IRS. Great work for Lil Kim to get this celebrity tax mishap figured out the proper way!

Wesley Snipes

Wesley Snipes is another celebrity that has made his way on to our list. Snipes was found guilty on three counts of failing to file taxes on income, totaling $17 million in back taxes plus penalties and interest. The government was simultaneously able to make an example out of a high-earning celebrity while teaching tax protestors a lesson. In comparison to other big name tax evaders out there, Snipes did not file fraudulent tax returns and ended up with three counts of misdemeanor charges. However at the end of the day, Snipes was convicted and served three years in prison from 2010 to 2013.

Earl Simmons

In July of 2017 Earl Simmons, more popularly known as the rapper DMX, was arrested and charged with tax fraud. New York federal prosecutors claim that DMX had created a long-term scheme to hide millions of dollars in income from his earnings of more than $2.3 million. Simmons avoided taxes by creating bank accounts in others’ names, eschewing personal bank accounts, and covering expenses with cash. An approximate $1.7 million was said to be the remaining tax balance.

Pete Rose

Even if you’re not a Baseball fan, you’ve probably heard the name Pete Rose. He holds the current record for most hits in major league baseball at 4,256 and was involved in one of the most notorious gambling scandals in baseball history. Although Rose doesn’t break any tax records, he definitely makes our list after accumulating nearly $1 million in back taxes between 1997 and 2002.

Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana

Big name designers, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, were part of a large scale tax scandal dating back to 2007. In June 2013, the pair was convicted of failing to pay taxes for their company in Italy. Prosecutors estimated $50.7 million was the amount owed in 2004 and 2005 from their sale of the company’s main brands to Gado, a Luxembourg-based company. Though the high court in Italy found the duo not guilty, two lower courts had found them guilty of “sophisticated tax fraud”, using Gado as a means to deduct taxes. An 18 month term had been imposed upon them with prosecutors advocating for even more jail time. In March of 2014, an unexpected turn of events occurred where a prosecutor argued that Gado was indeed a real company.

Nicholas Cage

Nicholas Cage might have tried to steal the Declaration of Independence in National Treasure, but he also tried to steal a large sum of money from the government when he didn’t pay his taxes. Cage has faced tax troubles amounting to nearly $13 million dating back to 2002. Unfortunately for him, National Treasure was only a movie, because that treasure could have definitely helped pay off his tax bill.

Willie Nelson

Nearly three decades ago country music star Willie Nelson had a lien placed on his property by the IRS amounting to $16.7 million. Although his lawyers were able to settle his debt for substantially less, he was still unable to pay the amount owed and lost everything he owned. Lucky for him he ended up getting back his Texas Ranch.

2017 Celebrity Tax Scandal

In more recent news, June of 2017 saw another tax scandal rise to center stage. Celebrities including Gary Lineker, Daid Backham, and Ant and Dec failed in their attempts to create tax deductions in their investments with a company called Ingenious. The original thought was to invest heavily into big-budget movies such as such as Die Hard 4.0, The Life of Pi, and Avatar. Each of these stars invested at least £100,000 in the scheme, totaling £700 million. Ingenious then recorded losses adding up to more than £1 billion, which they believed could be offset against other earnings to reduce tax. The treasury caught wind of the situation and cracked down on these “aggressive and contrived” tax avoidance schemes by issuing demands to Ingenious clients. Though the charges were appealed by these celebrities, a tax tribunal stated that their investments were not “allowable deductions”.