Miami music fans may have heard of the tax troubles of Lauryn Hill, a singer that has received critical acclaim as a solo artist and as a member of the now disbanded Fugees. Hill was charged with failing to file federal income tax returns for three years: 2005, 2006 and 2007. Late last month, she entered guilty pleas to the tax evasion charges and she faces sentencing before a federal judge in November.
Although the charges themselves were relatively unremarkable, the case did have some unusual aspects. After the charges were made public, Hill released a statement that contained some enigmatic statements about her personal life and her reasons for not sending the Internal Revenue Service the tax returns on time.
She indicated that there were some dangers confronting her family that led her to remove them and herself from the more visible place she had once occupied in society. This avoidance of the spotlight appeared to inform her decision to delay payment of the taxes for those three years. Records indicate that she earned in excess of $1.8 million during that time. That income largely came from accumulated royalties earned on her music and film work.
The penalties Hill faces are not minor. Combined, the three failure to file counts could potentially lead to a $300,000 fine and three years in prison. In addition, when a taxpayer does not pay and file taxes in a timely fashion, the IRS will impose penalties and interest that accrue over a period of time until they reach a certain threshold.
Source: Reuters, "Singer Lauryn Hill pleads guilty to evading taxes," Barbara Goldberg and Christine Kearney, June 29, 2012.