Taxman Goes After a Non-Banker, Non-Insider
Singer Lauryn Hill Replies to IRS Charges
Why would anyone try to escape taxes? They’re as inevitable as death. Aren’t they? These two 2012 articles are from the Associated Press, Jun 7, and the BBC, Jun 12.
by Samantha Henry and by BBC
Singer Lauryn Hill Faces Federal Tax Charges
Five-time Grammy winner Lauryn Hill has been charged with failing to file income tax returns for several years with the IRS, the U.S. Attorney's office announced.
Hill earned more than $1.6 million during 2005, 2006 and 2007, the three years that she allegedly failed to file returns, federal prosecutors said. Hill's primary source of income is royalties from the recording and film industries, prosecutors said. She also owns and operates four corporations: Creations Music, Inc., Boogie Tours, Inc., L.H. Productions 2001, Inc., and Studio 22, Inc., according to court papers.
The 37-year-old Hill got her start with The Fugees and began her solo career in 1998 with the critically acclaimed album, "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill."
The album, praised by critics for its incisive lyrics and synthesis of rap and soul, sold 8 million copies. Hill was pronounced the face of "The Hip-Hop Nation," by Time magazine.
She then largely disappeared from public view to raise her six children, five of whom she had with Rohan Marley, the son of famed reggae singer Bob Marley.
Hill lives in South Orange, a suburb just west of Newark, and had attended Columbia High School in Maplewood.
To read more
Lauryn Hill Responds to Tax Evasion Charges
US singer Lauryn Hill has said she failed to file income tax returns for three years after going "underground".
In a statement on her blog, Hill, 37, said she withdrew from public life for the "safety, health, and freedom" of herself and her family.
The former Fugees star added "there were no exotic trips, no fleet of cars, just an all out war for safety, integrity, wholeness, and health".
Hill explained on her Tumblr site: "I did this in order to build a community of people, like-minded in their desire for freedom and the right to pursue their goals and lives without being manipulated and controlled by a media protected military industrial complex with a completely different agenda."
The singer admitted she stopped paying taxes during this period but says her intention "has always been to get this situation rectified".
She continued that she did not "deliberately abandon any responsibilities" but added, "obviously, the danger I faced was not accepted as reasonable grounds for deferring my tax payments."
The Fugees' album The Score achieved worldwide success in 1996. Two years later, Hill released her debut solo album -- The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill -- to wide critical acclaim.
The singer also appeared alongside Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit.
Hill ended her statement by addressing fans. "To those supporters who were told that I abandoned them, that is untrue," she wrote.
"I abandoned greed, corruption, and compromise, never you, and never the artistic gifts and abilities that sustained me."
She is due in court on 29 June after being charged last week.
To read more
JJS: Hill earned her money. Many wealthy people don’t. Hill didn’t get corporate welfare like a banker’s bailout. Hill didn’t get an inflated payment as do military contractors. Hill didn’t keep the royalties belonging to the public after extracting resources from federal land, as do oil economies. Hill actually provided a service, a good, that other people were happily willing to pay for, no cheating or coercion involved. So she definitely earned what she got.
As the joke goes, taxation with representation is not so hot either. It’s not just that you have no effective say in how much you pay. It’s also the fact that you have no effective say in what you get charged for. You work, you get taxed. You shop, you get taxed. You own a home, you get taxed. Those are not rational taxes but government demands your complicity in irrationality or else. No wonder government must rely on coercion.
While each of us should contribute to all of us, is paying taxes contributing to society? To accomplish the same task, government is far more wasteful than business. How could your funding waste be a contribution to society? Government’s good intentions aside, some politicians -- members of government -- are corrupt, taking bribes, spending public revenue on themselves. How could your funding corruption be a contribution to society? With waste and corruption, there’s also the matter of priorities. Governments spend enormous sums on war and oppression. How could your funding a military/industrial complex be a contribution to society? It couldn’t.
Indeed, if you wanted to contribute to society, you’d work against waste, corruption, and misguided priorities, and one way to do that is to not pay taxes. There are other ways to contribute to society and you could do them. You could pick up litter. You could visit old folks’ homes and orphanages. You could give away smokestack scrubbers to polluting industries. You could organize open celebrations of culture or nature. You could do a hundred and one different things that need doing and government is not doing, instead of pay taxes.
But if you didn’t pay taxes, you’d be treated as a criminal, even if you were volunteering to help society. But who’s the real criminal? The good guy who doesn’t pay taxes or the bad guy who levies taxes? It’s your money, their taxes. If they want some of it, government should offer the goods and services that people would agree to pay for. And if government and citizen disagree, should that be a criminal matter? Or a civil matter. Rather than threaten arrest and imprisonment, government should have to prove its case in a civil court, just like every other claimant.
Government’s challenge would not be to show somebody did not pay a tax but show that somebody accepted a public good (government provided) without paying for it. Ironically, the one thing government could prove would be the classic “givings”, the gift of market value to locations that government gives to landowners when government does get things right and builds a needed road, runs a happy school, protects open space, which drive up land value. Irony upon irony, those publicly-generated values are the one thing that government does not go after, going after the privately-generated values of earnings, sales, and buildings instead, revealing even more irrationality in public affairs.
Because Lauryn Hill tried to resist this madness, she should be held up as a hero. But even more effective than merely resisting what’s wrong is to also restate what’s right, over and over, and geonomic tax and spending policy is right. If you see her, please tell her to talk tax sense and rally the geonomist in all of us. You might also ask her to sing us a song. Thanks.
Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics and helped prepare a course for the UN on geonomics. To take the “Land Rights” course, click here .
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