Some California celebrities are in the public eye for owing taxes

California has more than its share of tax cheats, and since so many TV and movie actors call southern California home, a few of them made the rolls of scofflaws this year, and last year, and the year before... some of them have been haunting the tax cheat rolls for a decade. Given the sorry state of California's economy, it would be hard to blame Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for rattling the saber a little bit at his fellow entertainers who owe back taxes.

  • California has a lot to offer, but since it also serves as a mecca for wealthy entertainers, it has more than its share of celebrities who just won't pay the taxman. Last March, California officials slapped a lien on the rapper Snoop Dogg - real name is Calvin Broadus - to the tune of $284,053.59 in unpaid taxes.

  • According to California tax rolls, Burt Reynolds owes $225,000 from tax obligations way back in the 90s. His spokesman, Jeffrey Lane, told the Associated Press that Reynolds paid his tax bill in the 90s and his name should be taken off the delinquent tax rolls. Either way, $225,000 is just a blip compared to some of the others.
  • Dionne Warwick actually lives in South Orange, New Jersey, but she owes California $2.1 million in taxes. In 2007 the total she owed was $2.7 million and to her credit, she has been cooperating with tax authorities to pay down the balance through a payment plan with the Franchise Tax Board. Two years ago, her representative told reporters that her tax dilemma was the result of bad guidance from previous business advisers. "She and her current business management team are now working with the state of California to resolve and settle the matter with the FTB."
  • Sinbad lives in Oak Park, Illinois, but he owes California a whopping $2.5 million. His representatives have not offered any comment.

A spokeswoman for the Franchise Tax Board said that everyone on the 2009 list (250 people who collectively owe $143 million in back taxes) received notices in advance, to give them a chance to pay up and have their names removed. That's the point of the list, says State Controller John Chiang, who is also the chairman of the Franchise Tax Board. The total on the list represents only a fraction of the $6.5 billion in personal income taxes that goes unpaid each year.

Stars Behind Bars

Stars Behind Bars

In another, unrelated area of California tax woes, Madonna may be regretting all that fawning attention she gets from the press, now that her not-for-profit organization is under the microscope. The Ray of Light Foundation, created in 1998 to benefit Malawi had a spotless record for a decade, until they got a recent call from the California Attorney General. The 990 forms filed by Ray of Light showed that Madonna gave the agency zero dollars. Unfortunately, some tax officials apparently remembered the widespread media coverage that said she donated the royalties from her children's books to Ray of Light, to the tune of $2.6 million. Oops! A minor omission.

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