Celebrity tax troubles
When celebrities come up short on their taxes, the world takes notice.
Headlines that proclaim a star’s tax troubles often spark a firestorm of public scorn. How dare our heroes not pay their fair share when their cup runneth over!
These 10 celebrities know the sting of a recent tax lien. Or two. Or three. Some came up short by circumstance, others by design and still others by accident.
Don’t hate them because they’re rich and famous. Often the dedication to their craft removes them from the tax chores familiar to the rest of us.
That said, by all means, don’t follow these stars when it comes to filing your own taxes.
The star: She’s a model-turned-actress who starred in “Not Another Teen Movie” and won an Emmy Award for her role on the NBC sitcom “My Name Is Earl.”
Amount owed: $694,000, based on four liens listed below.
What happened: Sometimes life imitates art. It seems so in Pressly’s case, given that her recent real-life troubles mirror the jams that would befall her “My Name Is Earl” character, the ex-wife of reformed petty thief Earl Hickey, played by Jason Lee. First, her series was canceled. Then came the tax problems, which according to Radar Online, include liens of $95,080 and $56,769 by the state of California and liens for $281,699 and $260,370 from the IRS. Money troubles like these are enough to drive you to drink, or drink and drive, which is what police in Santa Monica, Calif., charged Pressly with in 2011. She pleaded no contest and received three years’ probation. That was apparently the straw that broke up her marriage of 16 months to entertainment lawyer Simran Singh, according to entertainment site BANG Showbiz.
The outcome: Only time and tax court will tell. In preparation, the IRS might want to peruse Pressly’s 2009 autobiography, “It’s Not Necessarily Not the Truth.”
The star: The California leading man is best known for his portrayal of rocker Jim Morrison in “The Doors,” Naval aviator Iceman to Tom Cruise’s Maverick in “Top Gun” and the Dark Knight in “Batman Forever.”
Amount owed: $498,165
What happened: Tax troubles are nothing new to Kilmer, who according to The Associated Press was slapped with a $498,165 IRS lien for unpaid taxes from 2008. In July 2009, the IRS previously presented Kilmer with an overdue tab of $538,858. Kilmer’s tax woes date back to 2004, when a New Mexico Court of Appeals ruled against the actor and then-wife Joanne Whalley’s claim that they were owed a tax refund of more than $300,000.
The outcome: The Iceman came forth to the taxman in late 2011 after selling his 5,328-acre New Mexico ranch near Santa Fe to a Texas oil executive for a reported $18.5 million in cash, according to The New Mexican newspaper. But the drama continues. In 2013, TMZ reported that Kilmer was sued for $128,000 by the consultant he hired to get him out of his tax mess.
The star: The Canadian-born model, actress, Playboy Playmate and animal-rights activist is best known for her role as lifeguard C.J. Parker on “Baywatch” and her tempestuous marriages to rockers Tommy Lee and Kid Rock.
Amount owed: $864,659
What happened: Though she’s hardly drowning in debt, Anderson apparently has been lax with her taxes in California. The Golden State slapped the blonde bombshell with a tax lien for $493,144 in unpaid personal income tax in April 2009, then followed with a pair of liens totaling $371,515 in late 2012, according to TMZ. According to Newsoxy.com, Anderson filed annual taxes but not for the correct amount, and her plans to build a $50 million waterfront condominium development stalled when the housing market tanked.
The outcome: Let’s just call it a work in progress, shall we? While Anderson’s representative tells TMZ that some of the tax debt has been satisfied, the actress chalks her tax problems up to a blonde moment. “Mistakes may have been made in calculating taxes owed and we are now in the process of ensuring that any taxes owed are paid,” she says. Last year, she revealed she has been paying weekly installments on her tax debt and blames her financial troubles on a “bizarre” situation with a former business manager.
The star: The Academy Award-winning actor (for “Leaving Las Vegas”) is best known for the films “Moonstruck,” “Con Air” and “National Treasure.” He is the nephew of “The Godfather” director Francis Ford Coppola and former husband to Lisa Marie Presley.
Amount owed: $13.3 million
What happened: Cage’s tab with the IRS dates back to 2002, with subsequent liens in 2003, 2004 and 2007. In 2009, Cage fired and sued his business manager-accountant Samuel Levin for $20 million for making “numerous highly speculative real estate investments” that led him “down a path toward financial ruin,” court documents show. Levin’s countersuit claimed Cage was wild at heart and blew $33 million on real estate, purchased 22 cars, including nine Rolls-Royces, and bought castles in England and Germany against his advice. Cage lost two homes in New Orleans to foreclosure in 2009. The two settled their faceoff out of court in September 2009.
The outcome: Nic is apparently acting his way back into the black. According to TMZ, Cage repaid the IRS $6.3 million in April 2012 for unpaid taxes from 2007, then coughed up another $660,000 eight months later. While he still owes Uncle Sam more than $6 million, earnings from “The Croods,” “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” and the forthcoming “National Treasure 3” should have him riding debt-free in no time.
The star: The youngest of the acting Baldwin brothers (Alec, Daniel, William) is best known for his film roles in “The Usual Suspects” and “Bio-Dome” and reality TV appearances on “Celebrity Apprentice,” “Celebrity Mole” and “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!”
Amount owed: $1 million
What happened: The reality of being a reality-TV star caught up with Baldwin in July 2009, when he filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in New York. Court documents show that Baldwin and wife Kennya (the daughter of jazz musician Deodato) owed $1.2 million on two mortgages on their home, more than $1 million in back taxes, and $70,000 in credit card debt.
The outcome: Unclear, since Baldwin declared personal bankruptcy, discharging much of his outstanding debt. In a financial side note, Baldwin sued fellow actor Kevin Costner in 2012, claiming the “Dances with Wolves” star edged him out of an $18 million deal with BP to purchase oil-separating centrifuges to clean up the Deepwater Horizon spill. Baldwin’s $1.4 million share in Costner’s venture was sold just three days after the BP deal was struck — allegedly, though, without Baldwin’s knowledge. Unfortunately for Baldwin’s creditors, he lost the lawsuit.
Now he’s on the other end of a lawsuit: Late last year, New York Daily News reported that the actor is being sued by publisher Hachette Book Group for a $110,000 advance on a book that was due to them in 2009, but never delivered. Its tentative title seems to fit: “Ready to Get Dangerous?” was part of a two-book deal he signed with the publisher in 2007.
The star: The ’70s heartthrob and one-time Cosmopolitan centerfold is best known for his Southern-fried comedic roles in “Smokey and the Bandit” and “The Cannonball Run,” and pitch-perfect dramatic turns in “Deliverance” and “Boogie Nights.”
Amount owed: $225,000
What happened: Eyebrows shot up when Reynolds appeared as No. 247 on the California Franchise Tax Board’s 2009 list of the state’s 250 biggest tax deadbeats for a tax bill dating back to 1996. At 77, Reynolds remains one of America’s most enduring stars, popular for voiceover work (“All Dogs Go to Heaven”) and TV and film roles, including the Adam Sandler remake of his own 1974 hit, “The Longest Yard.” Then again, his bitter 1993 divorce settlement from Loni Anderson was a whopper.
The outcome: Much ado about nothing, apparently. The actor’s spokesman Jeffrey Lane told The Associated Press that Reynolds paid his debt more than a decade ago and asked California to kindly remove the Bandit from its tax bandit list.
The star: The versatile screen star may be best known for the “Blade” horror trilogy, but his resume includes performances in drama (“Jungle Fever”), comedy (“White Men Can’t Jump”) and action films (“Passenger 57”).
Amount owed: It’s complicated.
What happened: Whether you chalk it up to bad advice or bad judgment, the fact remains that Snipes declared himself a “nontaxpayer” to the IRS and stopped paying income tax in 1998. Government prosecutors say Snipes failed to pay $15 million in taxes and tried to obtain $11.3 million in fraudulent tax refunds in 1996 and 1997.
The outcome: Snipes was found guilty in 2008 on misdemeanor charges of willful failure to file income taxes for 1999, 2000 and 2001 but was acquitted of felony tax fraud and conspiracy charges. He began serving a three-year prison sentence in December 2010 and was released from prison in April 2013. Snipes has at least one fellow actor in his corner: Sylvester Stallone reportedly welcomed him back to Hollywood with a role in his upcoming “Expendables” sequel.
The star: This Brazilian beauty rules the modeling world, thanks to contracts with Dior, Versace, Victoria’s Secret, Louis Vuitton and other famous brands. But most readers probably know her best for her romance with Leo DiCaprio and subsequent marriage to New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
Amount owed: $72,003
What happened: The State of California reckons the supermodel came up a bit short on her 2009 taxes and filed a lien for that amount in Los Angeles County. Let’s chalk it up to a very busy year for the Brady household, what with the December 2009 birth of their son Benjamin and Tom’s $30 million signing bonus that brought his annual salary to $26.5 million, according to Celebrity Networth. Nice to know there’s a breadwinner in the family!
The outcome: Not to worry – she can make good on the debt. Forbes named Bundchen the world’s richest model in 2013, with estimated earnings of $42 million. That makes her the highest-paid model for seven years in a row.
The star: William Drayton Jr., aka Flavor Flav, first hit the public radar as the freestyling MC with the oversized chest clock in the legendary rap group Public Enemy. He went on to star in VH1 reality shows “The Surreal Life,” “Strange Love” and “Flavor of Love.”
Amount owed: $1.1 million
What happened: Despite his formidable timepiece, Flav apparently overslept when it came time to pay the taxman. In 2009, the IRS slapped the rapper with a whopping $906,249 bill for back taxes from 2004, 2005 and 2006 and the State of California added on a tab of $183,810. Not so surprisingly, those years also coincided with Flav’s return to popularity with his reality TV turns.
The outcome: While there’s been no word on whether Flav is putting a rap to his outstanding taxes, he has cooked up another income stream with the 2012 opening of Flavor Flav’s Chicken & Ribs restaurants in Iowa, Las Vegas and a Detroit suburb, the first in a planned nationwide chain. “The Colonel better watch his back, G,” Flav proclaimed to online media. As it turns out, the Colonel has little to worry about, at least in Detroit. CBS Detroit reported last year that Flav was served eviction notices on the restaurant there because he hasn’t paid rent since it opened in December 2012.
Mary J. Blige
The star: The multiplatinum-selling, multi-Grammy-and-Golden-Globe-winning singer-songwriter-actress-producer from the Bronx never met a hyphen she couldn’t conquer.
Amount owed: $901,770
What happened: What’s the 411? Call it a slow-moving train wreck. According to TMZ, the 42-year-old hit-maker was hit in February with a $901,770 tax lien by the State of New Jersey, just days after she was sued by Bank of America for allegedly defaulting on a $500,000 bank loan. All this came just weeks after she and husband Martin Isaacs were sued by another bank for failing to pay off a $2.2 million loan. To make matters worse, a third bank is suing Blige’s Foundation for the Advancement of Women Now charity for allegedly mishandling a $250,000 loan. The singer was even recently dunned for back rent by her New York landlord. Hey, who’s up for a group sing of “No More Drama”?
The outcome: Lady Hyphenate is on the case. Last May, Blige told TMZ that it was her bad for not hiring good people to look after her finances. “This should have never been allowed to happen, but it did, and now we are fixing it,” she says. Still, she received some good news in September when TD Bank agreed to shave $200,000 from the debt owed on her foundation, according to the Daily Mail, leaving a balance of approximately $125,000.