A Few Tax Evasion All Stars!

control-1027103_640Recently the Coca-Cola Co. has been getting a lot of press for allegedly owing the IRS $3.3 billion in back taxes.  That’s a huge amount and you may not think this would represent a financial hardship on such a global company. However, according to an article in Food Business News, ”Coca-Cola said that if the I.R.S. were to prevail, it could impact the company’s financial position, results of operations or cash flows.”

According to the same article, “The Coca-Cola Co. said the I.R.S. assessments are without merit. The company has requested a meeting with the I.R.S. Chief Counsel and said it expects to challenge the I.R.S. notice by filing a petition in the United States Tax Court.”

This made me think about the topic of tax evasion. While most American taxpayers are honest and do everything possible to keep up with their taxes, many may wonder just how widespread tax evasion is. And who are the individuals and companies who engage in this activity? I thought I’d do a little digging around and see what I could come up with to help my clients and those taxpayers who run into trouble with the IRS that their tax troubles, while overwhelming, should in no way make them think all is lost.

What I discovered is a website rich with statistics about high profile tax evaders including famous movie and TV stars, famous singers along with international businesses. I am only including a few of those listed at the top. However, if you want to see who else is among those owing the IRS hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, you can visit the website.

If you find yourself faced with an IRS lien or other tax issues, give my office a call. In the meantime, find out just how pervasive tax evasion is in this country.

The Cost of Tax Evasion

Recently, tax evasion cases have become more and more public. Numerous states, such as California and New York (as well as many municipalities), compile public lists of the biggest tax evaders in their states. In California alone, the top 250 tax evaders collectively owe the state almost $175 million as of June, 2011. The cost of tax evasion on federal and state levels could amount to hundreds of billions of dollars per year. It is estimated that the collective cost of tax evasion over the last decade amounts to $3.09 trillion.

In 2014, the IRS filed a $369,249 tax lien against singer-actress Vanessa Williams for unpaid 2011 taxes.

Busta Rhymes, a rapper who rose to fame in the mid-90’s, is facing two tax liens from the Department of Treasury: $611,000 for 2008 and $178,000 for 2012. Altogether, he owes the IRS nearly $800,000 in unpaid taxes.

In 2008, former businessman William Berroyer was settling a repayment deal with the IRS for his $60,000 tax bill when he tripped and fell over a telephone cord in a Hauppauge, NY IRS office. He spent 17 days in hospitals and rehab clinics for his injuries, and sued the IRS for $10 million (claiming that the injuries prevented him from enjoying his favorite activities). A judge ruled in favor of Berroyer in 2014, but reduced his payment to $862,000. In addition, Berroyer’s tax bill was waived.

H. Ty Warner, creator of the famous 90s plush toy Beanie Babies, pled guilty in January 2014 to tax evasion of $25 million using Swiss bank accounts, but was able to avoid a prison sentence. Warner was given leniency by the judge for his philanthropic activity and charity donations. He will instead serve two years’ probation and perform 500 hours of community service. Warner also agreed to pay $27 million in back taxes and interest, as well as a civil penalty of more than $53 million.