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Lauryn Hill: That (tax) thing

By Kay Bell · Bankrate.com
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Posted: 3 pm ET

Singer Lauryn Hill says that she essentially went underground for the last several years as a way to escape "a lifestyle that required distortion and compromise as a means for maintaining it."

It also, according to allegations by the Internal Revenue Service, was a way to escape paying taxes.

The Department of Justice, using the IRS info, has filed criminal tax charges against Hill. She's accused of three counts of failing to file federal tax returns for tax years 2005, 2006 and 2007. During those years, Hill reportedly earned an estimated $1.8 million in income, mostly from recording and film royalties.

Each charge carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine. Hill is scheduled to face formal reading of the tax evasion charges in a Newark federal courtroom on June 29.

After news of the tax charges broke, the Grammy Award-winning singer took to the Internet to offer her side of the story.

"Having put the lives and needs of other people before my own for multiple years, and having made hundreds of millions of dollars for certain institutions, under complex and sometimes severe circumstances, I began to require growth and more equitable treatment, but was met with resistance," she said in a statement posted to her Tumblr site "Ms. Lauryn Hill."

So, wrote the singer, she "left a more mainstream and public life, in order to wean both myself, and my family, away from a lifestyle that required distortion and compromise as a means for maintaining it."

Hill wrote that she did not "deliberately abandon any responsibilities, but I did however put my safety, health and freedom and the freedom, safety and health of my family first over all other material concerns! I also embraced my right to resist a system intentionally opposing my right to whole and integral survival."

As for the tax charges, Hill wrote that "when I was working consistently without being affected by the interferences mentioned above, I filed and paid my taxes. This only stopped when it was necessary to withdraw from society, in order to guarantee the safety and well-being of myself and my family."

Still, the singer acknowledged that "the danger I faced was not accepted as reasonable grounds for deferring my tax payments."

And she swears she's going to get her tax mess straightened out.

I bet she will. Being incarcerated gives a person plenty of time to write songs, but you can't produce them from the slammer, even if it is a relatively cushy federal facility.

Estimated deadline ahead

Hill's tax troubles have come at a good time for folks facing estimated tax filings. They serve as a reminder that tax deadlines must be met or you face serious consequences.

If you have income that's not subject to withholding, such as the royalty payments that creative artists receive, one of those deadlines is Friday, June 15. That's the due date for the second estimated tax payment for the 2012 tax year.

The four Form 1040ES filings each year are the IRS' way of getting money throughout the year on income that's not subject to payroll withholding.

Keep up with tax deadlines and tips on ways to cut your tax bill by subscribing to Bankrate's free Weekly Tax Tip newsletter.

You also can follow me on Twitter @taxtweet.

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