With April 15 approaching quickly, millions of Americans are feverishly finalizing their tax returns. So, when a celebrity runs afoul of the IRS, it’s a story that reaches us on a unique level — after all, they may sing, dance, act and look better than we ever will, but we’re better when it comes to basic bookkeeping.
Such is the hook for the recent revelation that chart-topper Iggy Azalea has been hit with a nearly $400,000 tax lien. According to TMZ, the Australian rapper, who moved to the U.S. a decade ago as a teenager, “has run up a huge tab with them, and it’s time to pay up.”
You’d be hard-pressed to find anybody who doesn’t love this 82-year-old, marijuana-smoking, “Crazy”-singing country legend. Which is why it was so sad when the story broke in 1990 that the Farm-Aid organizer had virtually all his assets seized by the IRS, who claimed he owed them $32 million. “As long as I got my guitar I’ll be fine,” he remarked, and sure enough he’s had more career in the years since than most musicians ever will. Nelson released a tongue-in-cheek-titled album called “The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories?” and by 1993 had resolved the debt.
Known as much for movies like “Face/Off” as he is for his eccentric ways, Cage has been known to spend lavishly on castles, comic books and odd artifacts. Although he was earning a reported $40 million annually in 2009, that same year the IRS placed a tax lien on the star’s home in Louisiana, claiming that he had failed to pay more than $6.2 million in federal income taxes. When he reportedly discovered that his business manager was behind it all, the man who had handled Cage’s money was gone in 60 seconds.
You’d think with all the movies Martin Scorsese has made about mobsters, he’d know that the IRS is the one organization that can take down anybody. But in 2011, the “Goodfellas” filmmaker and current “Vinyl” mastermind was hit with a $2.85 million tab. According to the New York Post, it was actually one of several tax liens that Scorsese struggled with over the span of a decade. Much like Cage, Scorsese blamed the tax troubles on a less-than-scrupulous money manager who was later sentenced to federal prison — where we can only assume Pauly Cicero is teaching him how to make a nice meastsauce.
The patron saint for Hollywood tax evaders, Snipes famously delivered the line “Always bet on black!” — then found himself in the red. In 2006, Snipes was singing the “Mo’ Better Blues” as he was charged with defrauding the United States and willfully failing to file income tax returns. The “Blade” star had attempted to avoid income taxes by using the “861 argument,” essentially an Internet-crackpot claim that taxes are illegal. The government respectfully disagreed — as did a judge, who sentenced Snipes to three years in prison.
Once upon a time, he was the funniest man walking the planet — and also in jail for income tax evasion. Pryor was arrested in 1974, just months after releasing the breakthrough comedy album that made him a star. He was only sentenced to ten days, proving that laughter can overcome even the most terrifying moments. When the judge had asked Pryor why he hadn’t paid his taxes, the funnyman offered up a two-word defense: “I forgot!”