Most celebrity tax debt stories are pretty boring. They’re boring because we have no details. Usually we are limited to the information in the notice of federal tax lien (FTL), which includes little more than the years and the dollar amounts that are owed. It’s not until after the tax debt is made public that juicier details begin to emerge. Sometimes in the aftermath the celebrity taxpayer makes comments publicly about the tax debt, and we learn something about why/how the celebrity got into trouble.
Of course, most of the time if there is any public comment, it is something that has been carefully written by the star’s attorney; something like what R. Kelly’s spokesperson said:
R. Kelly is in the process of working everything out with the government and is confident that all his obligations will be satisfied.
Most of the time we are left to read between the lines and make our own (unreasonable) assumptions. One of the assumptions I have made on ocassion is that the reason why celebrities incur big tax debts is they are on a downward spiral in popularity, marketability, . . . star power. They have a hard time accepting this and modifying their lifestyle accordingly.
Oh, did I mention that R. Kelly owes about $4.8 million in back taxes? It’s true; except my theory falls apart in this case because R. Kelly seems to be doing fine career-wise. It’s impossible to tell for sure how he is doing financially, but his star power seems to be intact and he is keeping busy. Maybe the “most successful R&B artist of the last 25 years” just has other priorities besides the IRS.