Friday, October 19, 2007

Even Celebrities Owe Back Taxes

On October 11th, 2007 the California Franchise Tax Board published their annual list of the top 250 taxpayers with back taxes owed to California. Included in this list of delinquent taxpayers is three celebrities, one of which claims to have no regular income whatsoever.

The publishing of this information is part of the California government’s attempt to use publicity to get the money they are owed. As with all persons owing back taxes, everyone on this list have been contacted numerous times by the Franchise Tax Board in effort to collect the debts. Specifically, before publishing the list they notify each taxpayer via certified letter reminding them of the liability. But I guess when you owe the IRS millions of dollars it’s probably going to take more then just a letter to get the money.

Out of the list of 250 delinquent taxpayers there are three celebrities that stand out. Firstly there’s singer Dionne Warwick who owes California over $2.6 million, and she’s been dodging the tax collectors for over ten years. Maybe she’s hoping the statute of limitations will run out, but if I were her I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Next on the list of celebrities is 90’s comedian Sinbad, who hasn’t had a hit anything for years but still managed to rake up a tax debt of over $2.1 million dollars. His liability has been outstanding since December of 1993. When I see numbers like this it makes me wonder… How in the world did Sinbad manage to get so far in debt to the California government? He had a few hits back in the early 1990’s but in order to get that far in debt he probably never paid taxes in full. It constantly amazes me when I see these celebrities who think they don’t have to pay their taxes. Too bad he didn’t have a better tax lawyer, or at least a decent advisor to tell him to pay his taxes. I’m betting he doesn’t have the extra cash just lying around to pay in full. But can you imagine his lawyer calling into the IRS to negotiate an offer in compromise and telling the IRS agent it’s for Sinbad? What I’d give to listen into those negotiations.

The last celebrity on the list owes the least out of all the celebrities, but for some one who claims in court to have no income what so ever he sure has a pretty high income tax liability. The star in question? The notorious O.J. Simpson, who owes California over $1.4 million in personal income taxes that have been outstanding since 1999. I wonder if he even intends to pay that debt down? I doubt it. He’ll probably just ignore it and let it add on to the millions of dollars he owes countless other people.

The lesion to be learned from all of this? As the old saying goes the only things in life that are certain are death and taxes. Every one has to pay income taxes, even has-been celebrities who haven’t worked in decades.

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