In Fiddler on the Roof, Tevya fantasizes about what life would be like if he were a wealthy man. How many times have you thought, “If I had a million bucks, I’d be so happy—and I’d never have financial problems again”?
Yet, you watch the news and see all these celebrities and athletes, making fortunes beyond your wildest dreams, in trouble with the IRS for not paying taxes. How could they possibly let this happen? Could it be greed? Stupidity? Ignorance? The fault of careless managers?
Let’s look at this year’s batch of tax celebrities
You say you haven’t seen Wesley Snipes around lately? Perhaps it’s because he’s still serving a three-year prison term for failing to file tax returns, among other reasons. The Supreme Court refused to hear his case about the correct venue for his original trial.
Speaking of Wesley Snipes, comedian Chris Tucker thought Snipes was good material for his comedy act. But it seems the IRS hasn’t forgotten the tax lien filed against Tucker on July 14, 2010, in Los Angeles County for about $11.5 million. Tucker owes taxes on income ranging from 2001 to 2006. He also owes about $3.5 million to the state of California. With liens like that, the IRS and state don’t even need to take legal action. They can simply attach Tucker’s income whenever they like.
When we look at these bad boys, Lindsay Lohan is small potatoes. Apparently she only owes the IRS less than $100,000. Lohan is among the crowd that relies on its managers and accountants to take care of finances. We have to wonder…why aren’t these managers and accountants doing their jobs? Is there any valid reason for those financially responsible not to be on top of the tax bills?
Over the years, I have seen celebrities and athletes express shock after paying people to care of their financial details, only to learn that those trusted professionals had been the cause of the tax troubles. Clearly, no matter how successful or busy a celebrity is, he or she is the single person ultimately responsible for meeting his or her own tax deadlines. It’s up to that person to schedule a few hours each month—or at least every quarter—to review all finances.
After all, we mere mortals are expected to do it. Why not the media gods?
But still, would it spoil some vast eternal plan if you and I were rich men (or women)? I’ll bet we’d take care of our tax obligations. Wouldn‘t we?
Eva Rosenberg, EA is the publisher of TaxMama.com , where your tax questions are answered. Eva is the author of several books and ebooks, including the new edition of Small Business Taxes Made Easy. Eva teaches a tax pro course at IRSExams.com and tax courses you might enjoy at http://www.cpelink.com/teamtaxmama.