Famous Tax Scandals

Famous Tax Scandals
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Famous Tax Scandals

Celebrities and famous folks usually crave the spotlight. But some well-known people have attracted a lot of attention they didn't want -- from the IRS.

Check out our gallery of infamous tax trouble cases -- the faces you see may surprise you.

First Up: Pamela Anderson
In 2009, the former Baywatch babe and Playboy model found herself in deep water without a life raft when the IRS came crashing down on her. The IRS filed a $1,700,173 lien against Anderson with the Los Angeles County Recorder of Deeds. Earlier this year, the state of California filed a $252,360 tax lien against her in Los Angeles. Money woes are nothing new to the actress. According to TMZ.com , Anderson downplayed the liens by telling the press, “Mistakes may have been made in calculating taxes owed, and we are now in the process of ensuring that any taxes owed are paid.”

Next: JC Chasez
In October of 2009, the state of Mississippi filed a tax lien against former 'NSync band member J.C. Chasez (real name: Joshua Scott Chasez) claiming he owed $206,965 in back taxes. Chasez’s manager claims the lien had nothing to do with his client’s personal finances and the dispute was between ‘NSync as a whole and the state of Mississippi. He stated, "Since 'NSync no longer exists, the state is going after each member individually." Chasez, he explains, "was the principal member of 'NSync, the front guy, so they are going after him first. This is still an open dispute with 'NSync as a whole and 'NSync is looking to get it all resolved." We know Chasez wishes this would hurry up and go 'Bye, Bye, Bye.'

Next: Aaron Carter
The young music pop artist and former 'Dancing With The Stars' contestant managed to capture the attention of the Internal Revenue Service when it was discovered he owed them a substantial amount of money from back taxes. The total amount the pop star owes? According to Los Angeles Country records, Carter owes more than $1 million to the U.S. government, dating as far back as 2003.

Next: Toni Braxton
R&B singer Toni Braxton may have her 'Secrets' but unpaid taxes are no longer one of them. The state of California issued a lien against Braxton and her husband, Keri Lewis, in March of 2009. The couple was accused of owing the state $79,315 in back taxes. This isn’t the first time Braxton has dealt with financial troubles. In 1998, the singer filed for bankruptcy, listing liabilities of more than $1 million.

Next: Duane "Dog" Chapman
In early 2009, Duane “Dog” Chapman found himself the hunted instead of the hunter. The owner of Dakine Bail Bonds in Honolulu and the star of the A&E reality show, 'Dog the Bounty Hunter' faced $2 million in tax liens in January. While this share of tax woes dates as far back as 2002, Chapman has faced the IRS previously for tax liens in 1993 and 1994. According to Chapman’s accountant, the payments had all been made, just not in a timely manner.

Next: Julio Cesar Chavez
The boxing legend was a six-time world champion in three weight divisions and was considered the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world. Chavez has since retired from his days in the ring, but found himself facing a new opponent last year -- Uncle Sam. The IRS filed two liens against him on August 10, 2009 in Maricopa County, Az. The first is for $12,404,422.54 for taxes owed from 1993 through 1998. The second lien is for $366,262.21 for taxes related to 1999 income. Hopefully, this doesn't leave Chavez too down and out.

Next: Chris Tucker
In June of 2009, the state of California filed a lien against 'Rush Hour' star Chris Tucker for $3,594,409 in back taxes stemming from 2001-2002 and 2004-2007.

Next: Nicolas Cage
In 2009, Cage reportedly owed a grand total of $6,617,550 to the IRS. This astronomical amount is a combination of three old liens filed between 2002 and 2004, as well as $6,257,005 in back taxes from 2007. Cage blamed his downward financial spiral on his former financial manager and stated that he was just a victim in the situation. Cage's manager declared it was his client's reckless spending habits that caused the situation. Regardless of who is to blame, the IRS took no pity on the actor and the state of Nevada sent Cage packing when they foreclosed on his multi-million dollar Las Vegas home in November 2009.

Next: Joe Francis
According to TMZ.com, "Girls Gone Wild" founder Joe Francis no longer owes Uncle Sam $33 million in back taxes. As TMZ first reported in Nov. 2009, Joe was fighting the IRS over a $33 million tax lien they slapped against him. Francis sued the government over it and apparently won. In a call with TMZ.com, Francis said he "thinks" the lien was released.

Next: Sophia Loren
The Academy Award winning Italian actress and beauty made headlines in 1982 when she served an 18-day sentence for tax evasion in an Italian prison.

Next: Wesley Snipes
The actor ran into trouble in 2006 when the government accused Snipes of failing to file tax returns for the years 1999 through 2004.

Snipes was sentenced last year to three years in prison following his conviction on three misdemeanor tax charges. He is free on bail while appealing his conviction.

Next: Richard Hatch
Famous for being the first winner of the popular reality TV show 'Survivor,' Hatch neglected to pay taxes on his $1 million grand prize.

Hatch was convicted in 2006 of tax evasion and sentenced to 51 months in prison, plus three years of supervised release after serving his sentence. Hoping to overturn his conviction, Hatch filed a last-ditch appeal, but in Oct. 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take the case and let the original ruling stand. On October 16, 2009, Hatch completed his federal sentence and began the 3-year term of supervised release.

Next: Leona Helmsley
After claiming some $2.6 million worth of phony business expenses, the 'Queen of Mean' was found guilty of tax fraud in 1992 and spent four years in prison.

At her trial, one witness testified that Helmsley had boasted: "We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes."

Next: Marc Anthony
Jennifer Lopez's husband and Latin singing superstar Marc Anthony agreed to pay $2.5 million in back taxes, interest and penalties for his failure to file returns for five years between 2000 and 2004.

Anthony was not prosecuted because he thought his accountant had filed them.

Next: Richard Pryor
The actor/comedian served 10 days in a Los Angeles county jail in 1974 for tax evasion following a tax investigation.

According to Pryor, he told the judge he forgot to pay. The judge told Pryor he'd remember to pay the next year.

Next: Luciano Pavarotti
The world-famous Italian opera singer was twice the subject of a tax investigation and accused of tax evasion: once in 1999 and again in 2001. The second time he was acquitted, but in '99, he did have to pay nearly $11 million to the Italian government.

Next: Spiro Agnew
The former vice-president to Richard Nixon pleaded no contest to charges of tax evasion and money laundering in 1973. Agnew agreed to resign, received three years' probation and paid a $10,000 fine.

Next: Martha Stewart
Before her recent jail time for insider trading, the queen of domesticity found herself in trouble when a judge ruled her claim of not spending a lot of time at her East Hampton, N.Y., home wasn't a good excuse for failing to pay $220,000 in state taxes.

Next: Willie Nelson
In 1990, the country music legend was hit with a bill for $16.7 million in back taxes from the IRS. To help him pay it, the IRS confiscated and auctioned off his assets. Fortunately for Nelson, many of them were bought by fans and given back to him.

Nelson later made fun of his tax troubles with ads for H&R Block.

Next: Martin Luther King, Jr.
On Feb. 17, 1960, a warrant was issued for Dr. King's arrest on charges he had falsified his 1956 and 1958 Alabama state income tax returns. An all-white jury acquitted him in May.

Supporters have noted such charges were often used to discredit leaders of the U.S. civil-rights movement.

Next: Chuck Berry
The rock and roll legend famous for 'Johnny B. Goode' and other rock classics spent the 1970s touring and getting paid in cash ... something the IRS noted. He pleaded guilty in 1979 and was ordered to perform 1,000 hours of benefit shows after serving four months in prison.

Next: Dennis Kozlowski
The former Tyco CEO's tax woes began in 2002 when he bought $13 million worth of paintings to grace his Manhattan apartment. He tried to avoid paying sales taxes by making it appear as if they were shipped out of state. Kozlowski stepped down after the indictment and is currently serving a 25-year sentence for his other dubious business practices.

Next: Al Capone
The granddaddy of 'em all. Legend has it that the notorious gangster once remarked that tax laws were a joke because "the government can't collect legal taxes on illegal money."

The IRS charged the infamous Chicago mob boss with failure to pay four years' worth of taxes. Capone was sentenced to 11 years in jail and an $80,000 fine in 1931.

Next: Boris Becker
The German tennis great avoided jail in 2002 when he was convicted of tax evasion. He admitted he lived in Germany while claiming to reside in Monte Carlo. He was given two years' probation and fined $500,000.

He decided he didn't want to pay any more taxes in Germany, and moved to tax heaven in Switzerland.

Next: Don King
The boxing promoter who promoted major fights for Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield was charged with 29 counts of tax evasion and fraud charges in 1985. Prosecutors alleged he and a partner had conspired to divert over $1 million in corporate receipts to their personal use, but King was acquitted of all charges.

Next: Heidi Fleiss
The "Hollywood Madam" ran one of the most successful escort services in the business and apparently failed to report her ill-gotten income to the IRS.
She was convicted in 1997 for pandering, tax evasion and money laundering and sentenced to three years. When she got out, Fleiss wrote about it all in her memoir, 'Pandering'.

Next: Joseph Nunan
The most ironic is probably someone you never heard of. His name is Joseph Nunan. He was the IRS commissioner from 1944-47.

In 1952, he was busted for evading taxes. It turned out that Nunan had won a $1,800 bet that Harry Truman would win the presidential election but failed to report his winnings to the IRS.

More: Burt Reynolds
When California released the names of its 250 "top tax scofflaws" in April 2009, some celebrities made the list. Burt Reynolds made it in at No. 244.

With his main residence listed as Jupiter, Fla., the state lists him as owing just over $225,000. If that's the low end of the list, it's not hard to see how the list of 250 delinquent taxpayers owed $143 million in back taxes collectively.

More: Melissa Etheridge
In protest of California's Proposition 8 passing, and essentially outlawing gay marriage, Melissa Etheridge stated publicly that she was not going to pay any state taxes. Her theory was that if she isn't granted the same rights as other citizens (i.e. the right to marry the person she loves, regardless of gender) then she isn't a "full" citizen and has no obligation to pay taxes. Later she said that she would make a final decision on whether or not she would pay California taxes by April 15, 2009. No word if she carried through on her initial threat.

Next: Ruben Studdard
Ruben Studdard of 'American Idol' fame is no stranger to tax trouble. On Feb. 4, 2009, the IRS filed a $60,469 lien against Studdard for unpaid taxes due from 2007. This is the fourth time either the IRS or the state of Alabama have filed liens against the singer. In total, he owes almost $200,000 to both entities. Most of that relates to 2003, the year in which Studdard snagged a $1 million record deal by way of his win on the television show.

Next: Marion Barry
In late 2005 the former mayor of the District of Columbia, pled guilty to criminal tax charges of failing to file a tax return. He was sentenced to three years probation.

The IRS has now filed a new motion to revoke Barry's probation since not only has he failed to file his 2005 return, he didn't file his 2007 return either. In response to these allegations Barry has responded that he has been on dialysis, and that he has been too distracted to focus on his tax returns.

Next: Paul Hogan
Aussie actor Paul Hogan is accused of owing more than $100 million, and Australian tax authorities have enlisted the help of the American Internal Revenue Service to collect it. His response? "Come and get me, you miserable bastards." He says he's paid the Australian government even more than he was legally required to, and isn't inclined to pay them anything further, no matter what they do.

Next: Darryl Strawberry
In the mid-1990s, Major League Baseball player Darryl Strawberry was convicted of tax evasion. But he never paid the tax bill, so in 2008, he was back in court. A judge ordered Strawberry to pay over $430,000 in back taxes, interest, and penalties. The income at the heart of his unpaid taxes was earned in 1989 and 1990. How's that for taking as long as possible to pay the IRS?

Next: O.J. Simpson
O.J. Simpson, who is quite possibly the celebrity with the most time spent in legal trouble, can add tax woes to his long list of problems. In 2008, he was named on California's list of most delinquent taxpayers. Simpson owes more than $1.4 million to the state. California is unlikely to see that money anytime soon, as Simpson currently resides in a Nevada prison thanks to his conviction for kidnapping and armed robbery.

Next: Sinbad
Comedian Sinbad (official name: Sinbad Adkins) was the celebrity owing the most on the list of back tax scofflaws released by the Franchise Tax Board in California. He is listed as owing over $2.5 million in personal back taxes, making him No. 7 on the list of 250.

Sinbad had no comment when the Los Angeles Times contacted his representative before the list was published.

Next: Helio Castroneves
Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, who more recently achieved fame with his 2007 win on 'Dancing With the Stars,' was acquitted on April 17, 2009 of tax evasion. The jury was hung on a related conspiracy charge, but the government later dropped it. He was originally charged for failing to report $5 million in income to the IRS. His lawyer said that he never actually received the money from a deal with Penske Racing, and therefore legitimately did not owe taxes on it.

Next: Dionne Warwick
Singer Dionne Warwick made the top 10 of tax scofflaws in California, owing $2.2 million in back personal taxes, coming in at number 9, according to the Los Angeles Times.

While that might be a good ranking for record sales, it's not so good on this kind of list. She owes even more than O.J. Simpson did last year -- his outstanding bill was $1.5 million -- but he was taken off the list, according to the Los Angeles Times, because of his jail sentence. Warwick's spokesperson says that a payment arrangement was already in motion at the time the list was published.
Next: Ronald Isley
Ronald Isley of the R&B group the Isley Brothers was convicted of tax evasion in 2006 and sentenced to 37 months in federal prison. He was also ordered to pay $3.1 million in back taxes to the IRS related to his conviction on five counts of tax evasion and one count of willful failure to file tax return. Isley's attorney tried to keep him out of jail based on his age and health problems, but had no luck. Isley was scheduled to get out of prison on April 13, 2010. An entry in Wikipedia states that Isley was released a few months early, in October of 2009, but we could not confirm if this was or was not accurate.

Next: Timothy Geithner
On January 26, 2009, the U.S. Senate confirmed Timothy Geithner's appointment to be Treasury Secretary, despite many of his tax indiscretions that came to light during the Senate confirmation hearings. Geithner ended up paying $42,000 in back taxes and interest owed (but, interestingly, no penalties assessed) on some income he received while working for the International Monetary Fund.

Next: Allen Stanford
Not only was Texas billionaire Allen Stanford arrested for perpetrating an $8 billion investment scheme, the Internal Revenue Service also came after him for unpaid taxes. According to a Feb. 18, 2009 Associated Press article, public records show Stanford owes hundreds of millions of dollars in federal taxes. There are four federal tax liens from 2007 and 2008 against Stanford totaling more than $212 million.

Next: Celebs Paying Up
Robert Downey Jr. has had tax troubles since the early 1990s, but he's finally paid off what he owes. Tommy Lee, drummer for Motley Crue, paid off his $214,000 tax bill a few years ago. And boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. owed over $6 million to the IRS, but a substantial chunk of that has been paid off. It seems like his $20 million in boxing winnings from 2007 may have played a bit part in him paying his taxes.