During the last debate prior to the Super Tuesday primaries, GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump explained he won't release his federal tax returns because he is currently being audited by the IRS.
Billionaire and GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump says he's being audited by the IRS, and has been audited annually for the better part of past 12 years.
"Nobody would ever put out their returns that's under an audit," he explained during last night's Republican debate in Houston, Tex."You're in the midst of negotiating and talking to the IRS." He also went on to suggest that the audits have something to do with his being a "strong Christian."
View tips to avoid a tax audit:
How to avoid a tax audit
10 celebrities who have been audited by the IRS
Double check your figures to assure there are no mistakes
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Be sure to be 100% honest, and report your numbers realistically
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Those in the highest and lowest income brackets are most often targets of fraud, and thus, audits
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Don't draw too much attention with unusual or unrealistic deductions
Some analysts find Trump's claims to be suspicious. "The notion that you're audited every year is somewhat strange," said Frank Degen, the former president of the National Association on Enrolled Agents, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
Of course, the vast majority of American earners don't need to be too concerned about getting hit with an IRS audit. Generally speaking, the federal government keeps a close eye on the ultra-wealthy. In 2010, former IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman told the New York State Bar Association, referring to a "game-changing strategy," that they plan to initially focus on "individuals with tens of millions of dollars of assets or income."
Still, as many as one in ten of those $1 million-plus earners were audited by mail in 2015, compared to just 7.5 percent in 2014, according to recent data.
Trump isn't the first high-profile U.S. figure to rub elbows with Uncle Sam, and he likely won't be the last. As the April 15th deadline to file your taxes for the 2015 fiscal year fast approaches, here's a round-up of some celebrities who've been audited by the IRS (some of whom even faced federal charges for tax evasion).
1. Martin Scorcese
The Oscar-winning film director faced a massive $2.85 million tax lien from the IRS in 2011, which may have been connected to his dealings with Kenneth Starr, who was convicted of running a $25 million Ponzi scheme with scores of high net-worth clients that same year.
2. Gisele Bündchen
In 2014, the Brazilian fashion model blamed Forbes, which published an estimate of her earnings in 2012, for her being audited by the IRS. "I earn plenty, but not as much as they say," she said at the time.
3. Martha Stewart
The entrepreneur and celebrity homemaker was audited by the state of New York, and ultimately forced to pay $220,000 in back taxes and penalties on an East Hampton mansion back in 1994. She argued that because she didn't spend much time there, she shouldn't have to pay taxes on it.
In 2012, the famed singer faced a $1.1 million IRS tax lien for unpaid taxes.
4. Robin Thicke and Paula Patton
A celebrity couple, the "Blurred Lines" singer and Hollywood actress were hit with a federal lien in 2012, alleging they owed $493,000 in income taxes. However, the lien was lifted by May.
5. Christie Brinkley
In 2011, the IRS filed a staggering $531,720 lien on the actress' estate in Bridgehampton, N.Y. "I regret not paying attention to my accounting," Brinkley said at the time.
6. Lil Wayne
The rapper has run up against the IRS several times over the course of his career, including in 2014, when the body alleged that he owed more than $12 million for fiscal years 2011 and 2012. (He'd previously paid off $1.13 million for back taxes in 2010, and another $7.72 million in 2012.)
7. Willie Nelson
The musician and self-proclaimed marijuana advocate had his property seized back in 1990, when the IRS claimed that he owed $16.7 million in back taxes.
The IRS came down on the Hollywood director for owing $188,000 in unpaid taxes for fiscal years 2008 and 2009, and he another $32,000 to the state of California.
9. Lindsay Lohan
The actress has had a slew of run-ins with Uncle Sam, culminating when the IRS seized her bank accounts in 2013.
10. Wesley Snipes
The actor and film producer served three years in prison after being convicted of tax evasion in 2008.
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12 biggest celebrity arrests of 2015
10 celebrities who have been audited by the IRS
1. The Weeknd -- The "Can't Feel My Face" singer was arrested on Jan. 10 for allegedly punching a police officer who attempted to break up a fight between The Weeknd and other individuals inside the Cromwell Hotel in Las Vegas. He was able to avoid jail time by pleading no contest. A judge ordered him to pay $1,000, complete anger management lessons and an alcohol evaluation and do 50 hours of community service.
3. Ricardo Medina Jr. -- The former Power Rangers actor was arrested on Feb. 1 on suspicion of allegedly stabbing his roommate to death with a sword. No charges against Medina were ever filed, and the actor was released on Feb. 3.
(Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
4. Emile Hirsch -- The Into the Wild star was arrested on assault charges on Feb. 12 stemming from an altercation that allegedly occurred the month before at the Sundance Film Festival, where he was accused of choking a woman at a nightclub in Park City, Utah. In August, he was sentenced to 15 days in jail and 50 hours of community service after pleading guilty to assault.
(AP Photo/Summit County Sheriff's Department)
5. Vanilla Ice -- The 47-year-old former rapper, whose real name is Robert VanWinkle, was arrested and charged with burglary and grand theft on Feb. 18 for allegedly stealing numerous items such as bicycles, a pool heater, a couch and a mattress from a foreclosed home. He accepted a community service plea deal in April, which allowed him to avoid prosecution.
(Photo by Aaron Davidson/Getty Images)
6. John Stamos -- The Grandfathered star was arrested and cited for allegedly driving under the influence on June 12 after the Beverly Hills police received numerous calls reporting a possible drunk driver. In November, he pleaded no contest to one misdemeanor account of driving under the influence and was placed under three years of probation.
(Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP, File)
7. Sean "Diddy" Combs -- On June 22, the music mogul was arrested by UCLA campus police on a charge of alleged assault with a deadly weapon. Diddy's son, Justin, is a defensive back for the Bruins, and the rapper got into an altercation with his son's coach, allegedly attacking him with a kettlebell. Later the Los Angeles County District Attorney declined to file felony charges and passed the case to the Los Angeles City Attorney for a possible misdemeanor prosecution. In September, Diddy was granted an office hearing, which seeks to resolve the matter without any criminal charges.
10. Steve-O -- The Jackass star was arrested on Aug. 9 after scaling a 10-story construction crane in the middle of Hollywood, California as part of a protest stunt against SeaWorld. In October, he was sentenced to 30 days in jail.
(Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
11. Mark Salling -- The former Glee star was arrested on Dec. 29 on charge of felony possession of child pornography. His representative had no comment on the matter.
(Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
12. Bill Cosby -- The 78-year-old comedian appeared in court on Dec. 30 in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, where he was formally arraigned on one charge of aggravated indecent assault. Cosby's passport was turned over and his bail was set at $1 million. He posted $100,000 (10 percent of the bail, as required) and was released. This is the first criminal charge against Cosby, after more than 50 women have accused him of drugging and/or sexually assaulting them. He has denied all wrongdoing.