Singer Lauryn Hill is Going to Prison for Tax Crimes

Looks like our girl Lauryn Hill is going to spend some time in prison for her tax crimes.  She pleaded guilty last year to failing to pay taxes on about $2.3 million during a 5-year period.

Here’s a breakdown of what tax fraud got her.  She’ll have to:

  1. Pay what she owes to the IRS ($1,006,517)
  2. Pay a $60,000 fine
  3. Three months in federal prison
  4. Three month house arrest with electronic monitoring
  5. One year of supervised release

Hill says she recently cut a deal with Sony, but I wonder how the creative juices are going to flow staring at the inside of a prison cell for 3 months and then being stuck inside for another 3 months.  She will probably be allowed to work while serving her home confinement term, but may be given a curfew and restriction on travel.

I hope Hill does release new music and I hope she makes a lot of money so she can pay her tax debt.  Based on the public comments I have seen, she does not appear to harbor any bitterness or anger against the government.  But with any luck, maybe we’ll hear tax themes and undertones in her new music.  That would be nice.

What’s with Floridians and their Penchant for Tax Crimes?

I recently blogged about how Florida is becoming a hotbed of tax crimes.  The US Department of Justice issued a press release this week about a Floridian who appears to be engaging in illegal tax activities right from his prison cell.  I say “appears to be” because, procedurally, this is still just a grand jury indictment, not a conviction.

David Marrero has been charged with corruptly endeavoring to obstruct the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and filing false claims.  He filed false tax returns in hopes of getting a refund from the government.  He even went so far as to prepare bogus income docs to support his fraudulent refund claims.  Marrero also used other peoples’ financial information as part of his scheme — a common technique in the underground business of false return filing.  If you have tax problems, hopefully this story makes them seem small in comparison.

The IRS has promised to scrutinize return preparer certifications that are issued to inmates, perhaps they should also be taking a careful look at any and all returns filed from prisons.  I’m sure they already are, and that is probably why David Marrero’s strategy failed.  So much for getting out early for good behavior…

Beanie Sigel Needs Tax Relief

The Philadelphia rapper pleaded guilty this week to failing to file federal income tax returns for 2003, 2004 and 2005. The IRS believes that Sigel failed to pay nearly $350,000 in federal income taxes over that time period on more than $1 million in income. This is just the latest in his fairly long history of legal troubles. He beat an attempted murder charge for which he was tried twice. And he pleaded guilty to gun and drug charges back in 2004. Apparently Sigel was earning money while in prison, and failing to report that income. Sentencing is set for November 18th and he could face up to three more years prison time for his tax issues. Click here for the complete story and some interesting background information on the career of Beanie Sigel.

Have you noticed that the celebrities who find themselves in hot water with the IRS are usually those aging stars whose careers seem to be going downhill? It’s no coincidence. Something similar tends to happen with business owners whose businesses are suffering. Income drops, but they tend to hold out hope that things will improve.  And by “hold out hope” I mean that they do not change their standard of living or their celebrity lifestyle.