Paying taxes. It may be the most annoying part of our civilization and we may wish we didn’t have to pay them as we look at the gross earning on our checks to only see the final number to have significantly decreased in amount. As tempting as it is… we just can’t avoid it. Mainly because there are negative consequences. Those who skip on paying their taxes end up in more trouble, and heartache, than if they had followed the rules. While we may frown our faces and be upset about paying taxes, it’s something that we all must do despite what conspiracy theorists might say. When it comes to taxes, everyone is afraid of not getting a tax refund and owing the government, but there are other legal issues and setbacks that might make you feel like taxes isn’t that bad a system after all. Do you really want to be in jail because you owed the government $300 two years ago?
While you may think regular people are the only ones who grapple with the concept of taxes, this isn’t so. There are some celebrities that have served as prime examples of why you should, and must, pay your taxes. From the creator of a billion-dollar business, to a star from Keeping Up with the Kardashians, to a certain guy who many didn’t like because of his objectification of women—spoiler alert, it’s not Donald Trump— take a look at 15 celebrities who were actually in debt to the IRS.
15. Ty Warner – $80 Million
If you’ve walked into a pharmacy or any drugstore it’s inevitable that you’ve seen one of Ty Warner’s creations. His name may not ring a bell, but his billion-dollar business might: Beanie Babies. That’s right, the creator of Beanie Babies, which is a billion-dollar company with some of the stuffed animals being worth thousands of dollars online, has been in debt and owed the IRS money. Warner was given probation for two years, 500 hours of community service and was ordered to pay a $53 million civil penalty. He was also sentenced to pay approximately $27 million in back taxes in 2014. If you thought those stuffed animals were silly, guess again when you look at how much money Warner made from them and how much he was ordered to pay Uncle Sam.
14. Nicolas Cage – $14 Million
Nicolas Cage has been well known in the entertainment industry for his notable acting roles. Aside from starring in films like Moonstruck with Cher, Face Off, and Ghost Rider, Cage has been publicly known for his issues with the IRS and lack of paying his taxes. In 2010, the World Trade Center actor told People Magazine that he owed the IRS $14 million. Since then, Cage continues to face financial issues and has had to sell a few of his homes to cover his debt to the IRS and has even sold vintage comic books. Cage’s legal troubles even stems beyond his debt to the IRS. He has sued his former business manager alleging his ex-business associate was negligent with his finances and committed fraud. Talk about a bad break-up.
13. Pamela Anderson – $863,000
Baywatch babe Pamela Anderson, known for her role of C.J. Parker on the hit television show, has faced some financial issues. While the former actress has been in the news recently because of her announcement of no longer being diagnosed with Hepatitis C, in 2012, headlines were a little different. Anderson received two tax liens totaling over $370,000. If this wasn’t bad enough, in 2010 Anderson was faced with a debt and was listed as a delinquent taxpayer for not paying approximately $493,000 in personal income tax. No word on whether or not Anderson has faced any debt issues as of late.
12. Chris Tucker – $14.6 Million
Chris Tucker is well known for being one of the main stars in Rush Hour with Jackie Chan and Friday with Ice Cube, but the comedian is also known for his debt with the IRS. He’s actually one of the celebrities with the highest debt to the IRS. In 2010, Tucker received an $11.5 million tax lien for lack of paying taxes in 2001, 2002, and 2004 through 2006. This isn’t the last of his tax issues. Tucker received another tax lien of more than $592,000 for taxes in 2007 and $2.5 million in 2014. While Tucker has recently taped a comedy special that streamed on Netflix, it’s going to take him a few comedy specials and maybe another Rush Hour movies to pay of this debt.
11. Joe Francis – $250,000
Joe Francis’ name has been in the news for a lot of reasons. Oftentimes, it’s for his politically incorrect opinions and statements to facing criticism about his company, Girls Gone Wild. Another reason is because Francis has faced legal issues with the IRS. Francis’ financial trouble stems from counts of tax evasion with gross earnings from his company at approximately $20 million. Francis’ financial problems have been going on since 2007. As of now, Francis has served jail time, probation, mandatory anger management, and paid $250,000 to the IRS. Along with serving jail time and paying the IRS, Francis has filed for bankruptcy and has had to pay millions to Steve Wynn because of slander. He has totally disappeared from the public eye compared to how much of the spotlight he took up before.
10. Martha Stewart – $220,000
Entrepreneur, former model, and pioneer when it comes to home living and lifestyle, Martha Stewart has had her fair share of legal issues and has even served time in jail because of insider trading, but one of Stewart’s run-ins with the law stems from her debt to the IRS. Stewart had to pay $220,000 in back property taxes to the state of New York. How could someone so rich end up with back property taxes? Well, according to Stewart, the debt was for a home she wasn’t staying at and felt she didn’t have to pay it because she didn’t stay there often. Nice try, but if that worked I’m sure tons of people would claim their homes were vacant as well.
9. Iggy Azalea – $391,000
Much to the name of her hit song “Fancy,” Iggy Azalea’s life and career were fancy and on track to being one of the biggest celebrities during her reign on the charts. While things were looking good for the Australian rapper, Azalea has had a few mishaps and public battles including criticism from the music industry, a fallout with former music mentor T.I., an incident involving a pizza delivery guy getting her number, and her ex-fiance Nick Young who cheated on her with his ex-girlfriend. To make things worse, the rapper was served with a $391,000 tax lien from the IRS, which was first reported by celebrity news and gossip outlet TMZ. Azalea failed to pay income tax in 2014, as her hit song “Fancy” came out. Maybe the title of the song got to her head so much that she forgot she had to pay for things like the rest of us.
8. John Travolta – $1.1 Million
Another celebrity we’ve seen on the big screen many times over the years, John Travolta has also faced his share of debt. The Pulp Fiction star and bad boy that all the ladies loved in Grease was once in debt and owed the IRS a lot of money. According to the IRS, Travolta owed $1.1 million ranging from the years of 1993 to 1995. While Travolta has made much more than that during his career as an actor, he pleaded that he lost $2.27 million from his association with a company called ATLO, a business that doctors, lawyers, freelancers, consultants, and creative artists use to structure business earnings. In 2000, Travolta paid back $607,400 to settle his two-year debt, although his settling amount was nowhere near what he owed.
7. Ozzy Osbourne – $1.7 Million
One of the first cases of reality television with a family that made you think yours was sane, holy, and sacred was Meet the Osbournes. From the unruly kids that cursed at their parents to the dogs that would use the bathroom inside of the house, Meet the Osbournes was the beginning of television you loved to hate and hated to love. While the eccentric, unbelievable family made lots of money because of the show and other opportunities stemming from it, that didn’t stop dad Ozzy Osbourne from getting into trouble with the law. In 2008, Osbourne and his family owed over $700,000, and over $1 million in 2009. It’s reported that the family paid their debt off within a few days, which must mean it pays good to be on reality tv.
6. Khloe Kardashian – $18,000
While “America’s First Family” has been known for their business ventures, Khloe Kardashian has also been in debt and dealt with the IRS. While Kim’s little sister has gained a lot of attention for her public relationships including her marriage to Lamar Odom, on and off relationship with rapper French Montana, and a few athletes, the Keeping up with the Kardashians star was issued a tax debt of over $18,000 for back taxes and states it was because she changed accountants and forgot to inform the IRS of the debt that was paid. Even if she wasn’t able to pay her debt, there’s no denying momager, Kris would create a show around it to not only generate more money but to keep the Kardashian name alive. As if it isn’t everywhere already.
5. Wesley Snipes – $14 Million Fraud
Starring in Blade and Too Wong Fu, Wesley Snipes has dabbled in issues with the IRS; another actor who has unfortunately been on the bad side of the IRS. In fact, Snipes has been in trouble with the IRS multiple times. He has been charged with multiple counts of tax fraud along with some of his associates. According to the IRS, Snipes sent them false documents for a $14 million tax refund. Since his counts of tax fraud, Snipes was ordered to serve three years in jail for three misdemeanor counts of failing to file tax returns. While Snipes’ public issues with the law should serve as a lesson to all of us to be more responsible when it comes to finances, his story also sounds like an interesting storyline for a movie or television show about a fallen celebrity trying to get their life back on track after legal issues. Someone call up HBO or Showtime!
4. Marc Anthony – $5.9 Million
Marc Anthony, singer and ex-husband of Jennifer Lopez, has had his fair share of bad publicity and negative image in the spotlight. While Anthony and superstar Jennifer Lopez have called it quits when it comes to their marriage and now both co-parent their twins, Max and Emmy, Anthony has also publicly faced issues when it comes to being in debt. In 2007, Anthony was accused of having back taxes as much as $2.5 million that range from the years 2000 and 2004. While those tax issues are over a decade old, that’s not the end of Anthony’s run-ins with the law and being in debt. Anthony’s tax issues have continued with being hit with $1.8 million and $1.6 million in 2010. We’re hoping J.Lo’s old flame can stay out of trouble with the law.
3. Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino – Debt Amount Pending
With the success of Jersey Shore and being an ongoing cast member, it may come to a surprise the amount of negative attention and issues Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino has faced. Known for “Gym Tan Laundry,” one of his most popular ideologies he lived by at the house during the show, Sorrentino’s problems were bigger than not going to the gym, being pale, and having no clean clothes to wear on a Friday and Saturday night. Sorrentino and his brother were arrested for allegedly trying to deceive the IRS and not reporting their full earnings and income. The status of this debt is still pending and Sorrentino could end up facing time in jail along with his brother. Now, that’s a real situation.
2. Lauryn Hill – $1.8 Million
Lauryn Hill is known for her talent and the praise she received for her solo-debut album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, which has received much critical acclaim, has been in the news for her financial issues and run-in with the IRS. In 2012, Hill pleaded guilty to not paying taxes on approximately $1.8 million and stated it was because of her no longer being in the music industry. She was ordered to serve three months in prison. Since her release, Hill has returned to the music industry and has given various performances including Jay Z’s charity concert for his streaming service, Tidal, which included performances by his wife, Beyonce, and Nicki Minaj, and she even released a new song, which is the first time many have heard from her since her album more than 15 years ago. Although the circumstances were unfortunate, it looks like there was a silver lining.
1. Teresa and Joe Giudice – $551,000
Reality stars carry with them various stigmas of being untalented, tacky people that share way too much of themselves with the public for a dollar. Joe and Teresa Giudice of The Real Housewives of New Jersey were indicted in 2013 on 39 counts of fraud and tax charges. Although the couple initially pleaded not guilty to the claims, the pair took a plea deal that included jail time for the both of them. Teresa has already served her 11 months in prison and Joe is still serving his sentence; he may also be facing deportation to his birthplace of Italy after his release. To make things worse, the couple was hit with yet another claim of owing the government. This time, they received a federal tax lien of $551,000 in 2015.