Clifford Smith, better known as the rapper Method Man or simply Meth, is battling the New York State Department of Taxation over back taxes of $52,503. He says there is no problem, but the state recently took his 2008 Lincoln Navigator in payment of the taxes. Even so, he tells reporters, he is not broke. The problem is not a lack of money... it's his love of marijuana.
He has stacks of checks, he says, dating back to 2005, for significant sums of money, which he says he has not even opened. Evidently, the notices he got from the state of New York telling him he owed back taxes are somewhere in those stacks, according to Smith.
On March 19th at 6 a.m., the state tax officials showed up at Smith's home in Staten Island. Smith, who is a member of Wu Tang, told reporters, they showed up with "four NYPD cops and the repo team. I knew why there were there. It wasn't like 'Oh my God! Noo!! Don't take it!' like it is on that TV show ["Operation Repo"]. I was half-dressed, and it was so early that I just said, 'Okay, you're taking the truck... Aight.'"
Smith said it was easier to let them take the truck than to keep up with the mail and deal with the problem.
"Myself, I'm a pothead", he told reporters. "It's no secret. Everyone knows that. I go on the road and forget everything else. Sure, [the tax department] sent letters to my house saying, 'We need this money.' They started sending them in 2002."
"Now I'm thinking we've gotta get our truck back, which means I have to get all my paperwork together. That means days of going through mail..."
In the future... it might be easier to open the mail and pay the tax man when the bill arrives.
Method Man isn't the only rapper in trouble with the IRS.
Nas (real name, Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones) was recently hit with a federal tax lien amounting to $2,584,206.31. His troubles relate to unpaid taxes from 2006 and 2007. At the same time, Nas is also embroiled in a divorce battle with his ex-wife Kelis. Over the summer a judge awarded Kelis $44,000 a month in spousal and child support.
He's no stranger to negative attention. Nas has also been under fire from the media for the violence in his lyrics, which have been marketed to kids. But, Nas told CNN, the words in his songs are reality.
" The good die young and I'm always gonna talk about that in my music. I'm not gonna change my music to make it more positive because that's not real..." he told CNN.
In recent days, a third rapper, known as DMX, has found himself neck deep in hot water with the IRS, to the tune of $1.5 million. The Detroit News reported that DMX, age 38, owes money not just to the IRS, but also to the state of New York, back to 2002.
Here's a breakdown:
* A tax lien in the amount of $442,869 was filed against DMX and his wife on January 2, 2009 in the New York City Register's office.
* Before that, the IRS filed a $663,554 lien against him in Maricopa County, Arizona on September 10, 2007, in the Maricopa County (Arizona) Recorder's office, relating to taxes owed from 2002, 2003 and 2005.
* New York state filed an $8,343 tax warrant against the couple on February 15, 2007, in the New York County Clerk's office.
* The New York State Tax Commission filed a $44,357 tax warrant against them on March 6, 2006
* The IRS filed a $370,460 lien against the couple on Sept. 20, 2005, in New York.