Why Don't Celebs Just Pay Their Taxes?
The IRS is hot on Nic Cage's booty since the Oscar winner (and 'National Treasure' star) allegedly owes $6 million in back taxes. Still, his failure to pay surely can't be due to a lack of funds, as he's worth an estimated $38 mil. Are there no decent accountants in Hollywood? After the jump, celeb watchers and accountants weigh in on Nic and other celebs stiffed the man! Meantime, rock out to the Beatles' 'Taxman' on the right!
"This is yet another aspect of celebrity narcissism,"explains radio host and author of 'The Cult of Celebrity' Cooper Lawrence. "The world treats celebrities different everywhere they go, at the grocery store, at clubs, on planes so celebrities truly believe that the federal government should also treat them differently."
Cage isn't the only big star to have tax drama. Wu-Tang Clan rapper Method Man turned himself into the Staten Island District Attorney's office last week on felony charges related to his ginormous tax bill. Tax authorities released a statement on the situation stating, "He has repeatedly failed to pay taxes for the past three years." Method Man naturally had a great excuse. He said that he suffers from memory loss due to his penchant for smoking pot, and that is the prime reason he has missed his tax payments. He just....forgot.
Tax Law Professor Paul L. Caron of the University of Cincinnati College of Law agrees with Lawrence that celebrities believe the normal rules that apply to everyone else simply don't apply to them, but he also believes the IRS loves making an example out of famous folks.
"I think the prevalence of celebrity tax problems can be traced to a combination of celebrities thinking that the normal rules that apply to everyone else don't apply to them, and the IRS's desire to bring high-profile cases against celebrities to discourage others from engaging in tax evasion,"Caron says.
Stephen Baldwin filed for bankruptcy over the summer in part because he owed $1 mil in taxes. Jay-Z's former business partner Damon Dash reportedly owed more than $2 million in state taxes in 2007 despite the fact that he was being chauffeured around town in a $400,000 Maybach and in 2006, Wesley Snipes was indicted for fraudulently claiming tax refunds of up to $12 million and simply not filing any returns for six years.
"Money breeds power and some celebrities let it go to their heads. While riding high on the fact that they are flush with disposable income (cash) they sometimes forget about the big picture,"says New York City CPA John Cipollone. "They almost feel that their money will get them out of any situation, be it a criminal trial or a tax trial. Meanwhile, what they don't realize is that their reckless actions can land them in prison and have them worrying about dropping the soap rather than dropping an album or a movie."
John Shearer, WireImage
Albert L. Ortega, WireImage
Monroe County Sheriff's Office / AP
Kirsty Wigglesworth, AP
Gabriel Bouys, AFP / Getty Images
Frazer Harrison, Getty Images
Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images
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