By Teresa Ambord
Eight-time Grammy-winning singer Lauryn Hill was back in court April 22, presumably for sentencing in the tax evasion case against her. With three possible counts of tax fraud against her, she was facing a maximum fine of $100,000 and a year in prison for each count. Instead, what Hill got was mercy . . . for now. US Magistrate Judge Madeline Cox Arleo gave her two weeks to pay $504,000 in back taxes. If she doesn't, she could go to jail for up to thirty months, minimum. Judge Arleo rescheduled Hill's sentencing for May 6.
, Hill pleaded guilty to failing to pay income taxes on about $1.8 million earned in 2005, 2006, and 2007. At that time, her attorney said she would pay restitution by the time of her sentencing; however, it was revealed in court April 22 that Hill has paid only $50,000 toward her original tax bill of $554,000.
Earlier this month, with the tax still unpaid, she filed papers with the court asking for probation. Probation, she contended, would make it easier for her to pay the taxes because she could work. Hill explained that her failure to pay taxes was part of her overall withdrawal from society a few years back, which she said was "due to what she perceived as manipulation and very real threats to herself and her family."
Hill Says Family First
Hill hasn't been specific in talking about the nature of the threats she says faced her family. But last year on Tumblr, she spoke of her decision to back out of the limelight for the safety of her family. Here's what she said:
"Over-commercialization and its resulting restrictions and limitations can be very damaging and distorting to the inherent nature of the individual. I did not deliberately abandon my fans, nor did I deliberately abandon any responsibilities, but I did however put my safety, health and freedom and the freedom, safety and health of my family first over all other material concerns! I also embraced my right to resist a system intentionally opposing my right to whole and integral survival."
Other Financial Problems
In the months leading up to sentencing, another type of threat began to loom. In November, the town of South Orange, New Jersey – where Hill rents a mansion – filed suit against her and her landlords. The mansion, located on Irving Avenue, is owned by Phillip and Diane Faillace of England. The lawsuit alleges that Hill is running a business out of the home, which violates zoning ordinances, said town attorney Steven C. Rother.
In March 2013, Hill, who doesn't actually live in the mansion, stopped paying rent on the home. Subsequently, the Faillaces initiated eviction proceedings against her in an Essex County court.
Hill has six children, including five with Rohan Marley, son of reggae legend Bob Marley. She got her start singing with the Fugees and then launched her solo career in 1998 with her album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.