When you were a kid in school, you probably forgot your homework once or twice. And you probably came up with some sort of excuse to weasel out of trouble, right? 'Fess up now -- did the dog ever really eat your homework?
Now that you're all grown up, you've got a different set of assignments you have to turn in. Few of them are more important than your annual tax return. Of course, even grownups sometimes forget their homework. But the IRS won't be buying that school kid whine!
Take supermodel Christie Brinkley, for example. Earlier this month, the IRS filed a lien for $531,720 in unpaid taxes against the "Uptown Girl's" $30 million country estate in swanky Bridgehampton, NY. That unpaid balance, of course, is also subject to interest compounded daily and a 0.5% monthly late payment penalty. Brinkley's publicist told E! Online that she "was surprised to hear today that a tax lien has been filed, and has instructed her team to resolve the matter immediately." Brinkley herself stated that "I have been, and remain focused on my whole family as both my parents navigate serious health issues."
At least Brinkley is facing the music willingly. Rapper Bow Wow -- who must not think his "real" name (Shad Gregory Moss) gives him the street cred he wants -- is putting up more of a fight. In November, the IRS filed a $91,105.61 lien against him for taxes dating back to 2006, when he was just 19 years old. But Bow Wow isn't taking this one lying down, declaring "we all know not to believe anything the media writes or blogs." And Bow Wow isn't the only rapper to run afoul of the IRS. In August, Beanie Sigel pleaded guilty to failing to file tax returns for three years in a row. (Prosecutors believe he owes up to $700,000 more in unpaid taxes dating back to the 1990s, but the statute of limitations has run out.) And in July, Ja Rule earned 28 months of federal housing for failing to file returns for tax losses from 2004 through 2008.
Rappers aren't the only musicians who don't always pay their taxes. Back in April, the IRS hit former Black Sabbath frontman and reality star Ozzy Osbourne with liens totaling over $2 million for unpaid taxes from 2007, 2008, and 2009. Ozzy's wife Sharon took to the "twitterverse" to admit her finances had gone off the rails. "You can't rely on anyone but yourself," she tweeted. "You have to be on top of your own business affairs. My fault...lesson learned."
And musicians, in turn, aren't the only celebrities who don't pay taxes. Former Green Bay Packers left guard Frederick "Fuzzy" Thurston dominated the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field from 1959-1967, then opened a chain of restaurants called the Left Guard after retiring. He and his partners withheld taxes from their employees' paychecks -- just like they were supposed to -- but they didn't actually pay the bill. Way back in 1984, the court flagged him with a $190,806 penalty for "roughing the IRS." With interest, that bill has grown to $1.7 million. Federal marshalls even seized his Super Bowl II ring commemorating Green Bay's 33-14 victory over Oakland to help pay!
Of course, our job is to make sure you don't need excuses for not paying your taxes. Proper planning is the key to making that bill affordable, and making sure you don't ever have to tell the IRS that the dog ate your homework!