Tax Cheats Avoided IRS Payments While Making Millions (or More)

No one likes paying taxes, but most of us grumble and then contribute our allotted share while scrimping and saving enough to pay our every day bills and afford a few luxuries. It’s often the richest Americans who try to evade paying their taxes. Here are three outrageous examples:

Ty Warner may be best known for his cute stuffed Beanie Babies, but the millions he earned from taking the toy market by storm back in 1993 apparently wasn’t enough to satisfy him. According to MSN, Warner squirreled away $80 million in a Swiss bank account back in 1996 and earned another $25 million in interest over the next 12 years. But he never paid a penny in taxes on those earnings.

Warner finally decided to come clean and ended up pleading guilty to one count of federal tax evasion in 2014. He had to pay $16 million in back taxes and interest plus a fine of $53.5 million. (It would have cost him a lot less just to pay the taxes up front.) But Warner did evade one penalty—he spent no time in jail. His sentence was two years of probation and 500 hours of community service.

Actor Wesley Snipes wasn’t as fortunate. According to Forbes, the star of the Blade trilogy relied on a discredited strategy advocated by anti-tax protesters to evade paying $7 million in taxes between 1999 and 2001. Although a jury did acquit Snipes on the felony counts of conspiracy to defraud the government and filing a false claim, they found him guilty of three misdemeanor counts of failing to file federal tax returns. He paid for that failure with three years in jail.

Faced with a $6 million bill for back taxes from the IRS (negotiated down from $16.7 million), country music legend Willie Nelson had to work out a three-year repayment plan to settle his debt to the IRS. The government auctioned off many of his assets, and Nelson released a CD to pay off his debts: The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories?

Nelson blamed his tax troubles on his accounting firm, Price Waterhouse, which he claimed had persuaded him to invest in illegal tax shelters. He ended up suing the firm, and cleared his IRS debt with the settlement he received from them.

If you’re not one of the examples above, and need help with IRS payments, call us directly at 720-398-6088. We can help!