Over the years, there have been a slew of celebrity tax evaders, including Willie Nelson, Mike Tyson, Martha Stewart, Judy Garland, Nicholas Cage, etc. Many of these celebrities have been hit with a tax lien and some, like the M-E-T-H-O-D Man, have been arrested (Method Man didn’t see jail time, though). The standard conclusion to these stories, however, is that the star offers a lame excuse, receives a slap on the wrist, and goes back to their life of luxury.
Unfortunately for the latest celebrity tax evader, Lauryn Hill, the usual storyline isn’t being followed. On Monday, the rapper and singer best known for her work with the Fugees and incredible solo debut “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” was sentenced to three months in jail and another three months of home arrest for failing to pay taxes on more than $2 million in earnings over a five-year period. Her lawyer had been arguing for probation, citing that Ms. Hill had already paid back $970,000 to satisfy her tax liabilities.
Ms. Hill said that she always intended to pay the outstanding taxes but struggled to do so after leaving the music industry.
“I needed to be able to earn so I could pay my taxes, without compromising the health and welfare of my children, and I was being denied that,” she said in a statement.
I’m not sure if I believe Ms. Hill or not. I also am not familiar enough with the laws to figure out why she is being sentenced to jail time when so many other celebrities and U.S. Congressmen have gotten off with little or no punishment.
What I can say is that this and every celebrity tax evasion story reeks of arrogance and privilege. For whatever reason, the powerful people who commit these crimes have at some point decided the rules no longer apply to them. You can always tell it’s a shock to them when the rules finally are applied because of the inadequate excuses they offer for committing the crime.
So even though I enjoy Ms. Hill’s music, I can’t say I feel bad for her. I do wish, however, that the law could find some way to be consistent when dealing with the rich and famous. It makes no sense to give some a slap on the wrist because of their fame and power, while others are punished to the full extent of the law in order to be made an example for everyone.
The only way to begin to break the privileged mindset is to treat everyone the same under the law.
Don’t worry, I won’t hold my breath for that to start happening anytime soon.
Previously from Charlie Crespo:
♦ Still Money: Floyd Mayweather Dominates Robert Guerrero
♦ Beertopia: Unibroue’s La Fin du Monde
♦ Zach Braff Wants Your Money
♦ How Far Can Steph Curry Carry the Warriors?
♦ You Gotta Fight, for Your Right, to Write… a Memoir!