The latest celebrity tax round-up features several repeat offenders. It's great to be in the spotlight, but is sparring with the IRS the best way to stay in the public eye?
Last summer, rap star Young Buck (real name David Darnell Brown) woke up to find federal agents pointing guns at him in his home in Hendersonville, TN. The agents were there to confiscate property in payment of Brown's $300,000 tax debt. Agents took a long list of items, ranging from music-recording gear, to jewelry, to artwork, to expensive video game equipment. In the process, officials found a.40 caliber pistol and ammunition. Now Brown faces firearms charges, based on the fact that he is a convicted felon, therefore not permitted to possess these weapons. The earlier conviction occurred when Brown stabbed a man during a fight at the 2004 Vibe Awards. On March 7th Brown was indicted for possession, according to Nashville's WSMV Channel 4 news, pled guilty, and was released on $100,000 bail.
Meanwhile, Brown (a former member of the group G-Unit) and his accountant are making payments on Brown's tax debt out of income he receives from Cashville Records. Like many celebrities who fall behind in taxes owed, he blamed the arrears on trusting the wrong accountant.
Joe Francis, of "Girls Gone Wild", fame, is a name that was in and out of headlines for years. Francis started the year 2009 in jail for tax evasion. The IRS says he underreported his income by $20 million. The stakes were raised when Francis was later accused of bribing jail staff. By the end of 2009, things were looking up for Francis… for about a minute. A judge accepted his plea bargain and sentenced him to time served, of 301 days, a quarter million dollars in fines, and a year's probation. Within three hours of striking the deal, the Internal Revenue Service slapped him with another lien for $33,819,087 in taxes relating to income from 2001, 2002, and 2003 (according to a report from TMZ.com).
So why is Francis back in the news today? The latest two chapters in the Joe-Francis-Gone-Wild saga include: a new tax lien filed against his company, Mantra Films, this time for $113,128 relating to 2003 income. The lien was filed on November 29 with the Los Angeles County Recorder of Deeds. And… in February 2011, Francis was indicted by a grand jury on a $2 million gambling debt. The debt is allegedly owed to Las Vegas Casino boss Steve Wynn, who charged Francis with felony theft and fraud. Wynn won a lawsuit for this debt in 2009, but Francis has refused to pay (according to a report from TMZ.com).
Francis told TMZ reporters",I'm 100 percent confident that I will prevail, just like I always do.
Jaime Pressly (the blonde actress best known for her role in "My Name is Earl") hit a bad patch last summer and just keeps skidding downhill. In June, the state of California filed a tax lien against her for $95,080 with the Los Angeles County Recorder of Deeds. The following September, also in Los Angeles, the IRS filed a lien for $281,699 relating to income from 2008.
Round three… in December the IRS hit her one more time, with a new lien for $260,370.
If Pressly's mounting tax debt wasn't bad enough, a month later, in January 2011, she was pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving.
And then there is Richard Hatch. Again. Hatch was sentenced to 51 months in prison for tax evasion for not filing tax returns for the year that he won $1 million as the first winner of "Survivor", on national television, plus other income. During that time he was in and out of the spotlight for various reasons. For the last several months of his incarceration, Hatch was allowed to spend his confinement on house arrest in the Rhode Island home of his sister. But that privilege was revoked when he violated the terms by leaving the house to appear on the "Today Show." He used the TV appearances to accuse the IRS of targeting him – not based on his tax evasion but – because he is homosexual and arrogant. Hours later, authorities knocked on the door of his sister's home and hauled Hatch back to jail.
Why is he back in the spotlight yet again? Hatch still has not fulfilled his legal obligation to file the missing tax returns that landed him in prison in the first place.