Tax Tips

Celebrities with Tax Evasion Cases

No matter what your status in life, when you’re cited for tax evasion, you will be stalked like a celebrity. Ironically, let’s look into some tax evasion cases that some celebrities had to endure.

Martha Stewart

If you don’t look after what taxes your assets are liable for, then you will be forced to pay up when the time comes. That’s what happened to this lifestyle guru who didn’t fully realize that her East Hampton mansions generate taxes. The State of New York sent her a bill for $220,000 in back taxes and penalties. She said that she hardly spent any time there, but that didn’t hold water for the authorities concerned.

Wesley Snipes

This action star failed to file a federal income tax return. His tax debt ballooned to about $17,000,000 due to back taxes compounded by penalties and interest. He failed in an attempt to pay off a portion of it in 2008, so he was sentenced to three years jail time which began in December 2010.

Willie Nelson

A bogus tax shelter in 1990 didn’t spare this country superstar from remitting $16,000,000 in back taxes and fines. Some news later revealed by Price Waterhouse that they failed to pay Nelson’s taxes for years and invested the funds instead.

Nicolas Cage

This actor trusted his ex-manager and accountant too much. They ended up making poor investment choices in real estate and failed to pay his taxes. Cage tried to make amends with the IRS, but he still had to settle considerable fines.

Marc Anthony

In 2007, Anthony owed the IRS $2,500,000 in back taxes. By 2010, he also received two more bills amounting to $3,000,000 in unpaid taxes on real estate. This singer blamed his management, but the IRS received zero tax payments for a number of years.

Annie Leibovitz

This talented photographer was unable to fix her financial concerns so, from 2004-2007, she owed $2,1000,000 in unpaid taxes. To get a loan to pay her debts, she was forced to pledge the copyright of every photo she took, and even the ones would take in the future.

Darryl Strawberry

Even professional baseball players that win World Series championships are not exempt from taxes. Strawberry failed to declare taxable income, even the ones derived from autograph signings and memorabilia shows. Tax evasion convictions came soon after to collect on these undeclared earnings.

Boris Becker

The German tax authority ran after this tennis phenom for $3,000,000 in back taxes from prize money earnings, endorsements and appearance fees. Becker claimed to be in Monaco, a tax haven, from 1991-1993. When he was found out to be just in Munich with his family, the tax collection was the next thing he had to serve. No love lost there.

“Survivor” Richard Hatch

After winning the first season of “Survivor,” he assumed that the network would pay the taxes on his $1,000,000 prize money. Hatch was found guilty of tax evasion in 2006 and served part of a six-year prison sentence. Better pay the IRS especially if you won such a largess on national television.

Heidi Fleiss

So, how do you pay taxes from illegal earnings? That was this Hollywood madam’s excuse which led her to be sentenced for tax evasion in 1997 due to her high-profile prostitution ring.


The main lesson here is to make sure you pay the government what you owe. If you don’t, they’ll find a way to collect what’s due regardless of your fame or reputation.

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