The spotlight. The sweet cars. The fancy homes.
It must be nice to be a celebrity.
But when it comes to taxes, stars get treated like the rest of us.
That was evident this October in two courtrooms in New Jersey. In one, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino pleaded not guilty to tax evasion charges. Sorrentino starred in the reality TV show “Jersey Shore” and made millions trading off his name.
Federal prosecutors allege that Sorrentino and his brother Marc evaded taxes on almost $9 million in income. An indictment accuses the two of filing false tax returns in 2010, 2011 and 2012. A March 2015 trial date has been set.
Real consequences for Real Housewife
Meanwhile in another New Jersey courtroom, another reality star and her husband were sentenced to prison time after pleading guilty to several fraud charges and failure to pay taxes.
Teresa Giudice, one of the stars of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” and her husband, Giuseppe or Joe, were accused of submitting fraudulent mortgage and loan applications and fabricating tax returns and W-2 forms.
Teresa Giudice received a 15-month sentence and is due to report to prison on Jan. 5. Her husband was ordered to serve 41 months.
Star-studded tax evasion
The cases can’t help but bring to mind Wesley Snipes’ tax evasion conviction. Snipes was convicted of three misdemeanor counts in 2008 for failure to file tax returns for 1999 to 2001. He was sentenced to three years in prison. He was released in April 2013.
Actor Stephen Baldwin, singer Lauryn Hill, country music legend Willie Nelson – the list of celebrities who have found themselves facing tax evasion charges is long. So is the list of regular folks who failed to file or filed false tax returns.
The IRS makes it pretty clear in Publication 17 that paying taxes is not optional at certain income levels, whether you’re a star or not. Failing to file a tax return is a misdemeanor. Filing a false tax return is a felony. Both can get you time in the big house, and we don’t mean the celebrity mansion.
So, if you think you can’t pay the taxes you owe, talk with a qualified tax preparer about the best way to handle the situation. The IRS may have options, including allowing you to pay in installments.
Disclaimer: Every effort has been taken to provide the most accurate and honest analysis of the tax information provided in this blog. Please use your discretion before making any decisions based on the information provided. This blog is not intended to be a substitute for seeking professional tax advice based on your individual needs.