When was the last time we heard a celebrity in tax trouble complain that the only reason they're being targeted by the IRS is because they are a celebrity? The defense of Lauryn Hill's failure to file for three years is really no different, except in this case Hill's attorney (who happens to be a former Assistant Attorney General for the U.S. Department of Justice’s tax division) Nathan Hockman had to make sure it's clear that it's not Hill's fault for not filing, it's Hill's fault for being herself. "There are many people in society who fail to file their taxes on time who only face civil liability," Hockman said. "They chose Ms. Hill in particular because of who she was."
Hill's lawyer may not have been down but the former Fugees star manned up and took responsibility for the failure to file on income of $1.8 million and pleaded guilty to tax evasion charges in federal court today.
She's facing up to three years in prison and $75,000 in fines. Sentencing will take place in November.
I guess it's clear from this experience that a "climate of hostility, false entitlement, manipulation, racial prejudice, sexism and ageism" are not reasons to avoid the IRS. Hill wrote on her Tumblr earlier this month that the above infections of the music industry forced her to drop off the grid and hide:
I kept my life relatively simple, even after huge successes, but it became increasingly obvious that certain indulgences and privileges were expected to come at the expense of my free soul, free mind, and therefore my health and integrity. So I left a more mainstream and public life, in order to wean both myself, and my family, away from a lifestyle that required distortion and compromise as a means for maintaining it.
The short version? The IRS does not give even half a shit that you are overwhelmed by success, you better at least hire someone to handle your taxes for you or face the consequences.
When asked by U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp if anyone had forced her to enter a guilty plea either directly or indirectly, Hill consulted with her attorney and asked for clarification on the meaning of "directly" and "directed." "Ms. Hill is very particular about language," her lawyer said. "Language is very important to Ms. Hill." Obviously. Taxes? Not so much.