Three years of unpaid taxes, from 2002, 2003, and 2004... that's the bunker Jim Thorpe finds himself stuck in. Charges were filed in an Orlando, Florida federal court accusing Thorpe of failing to pay federal taxes – amounting to $1.6 million - on income of more than $5.2 million earned during that three year period.
The U.S. Attorney's office in Orlando told reporters that in addition to the $1.6 million in taxes due, Thorpe is looking at a $3.2 million fine, and a possible seven year jail term, for failing to file income tax returns and three counts of failing to pay taxes. He is also accused of failing to file a corporate tax return for his company JLT Inc, in 2003, and failing to make estimated tax payments for the business, although the complaint says that his accountant advised him to make the payments. Thorpe is the lone officer of JLT, Inc. During the years in question, Thorpe had gross income of over $5.2 million, according to the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Orlando. The government's complaint lists other tax issues, including money that Thorpe earned from several endorsements, at least $1.7 in gambling winnings.
Thorpe, age 60, is on the Champions Tour for golfers age 50 plus. Thorpe's attorney, Mark. L. Horowitz, told reporters at the Tampa Tribune that Thorpe has been in discussion with the government about these tax charges that were only recently filed against him, for over a year. "We look forward to having a trial. We don't think he's willfully violated the law. That's not to say he doesn't owe the tax, but we don't think he's guilty of a crime." Horowitz calls the case against his client "government spin."
Of course, if prosecutors are allowed to bring up Thorpe's past, he may have a hard time defending his actions. Thorpe was investigated – though not criminally prosecuted - for not filing taxes from 1992-1995.
Stars Behind Bars
Thorpe is a North Carolina native and a three-time winner of the PGA Tour and a 13-time winner of the Champions Tours. He played in the Allianz Championship last week in Boca Raton, Florida. The PGA Tour Web site says that Thorpe has career earnings as a pro golfer of more than $13 million since joining the Champions Tour in 1999. Thorpe became a pro golfer in 1972 and worked his way onto the PGA Tour in the 1980s.