Three Times Tax Evasion Ruined Good Careers


With all the measures Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has in place to prevent people from cheating on their taxes, it’s hard to believe people still think they can get away tax evasion. However, as long as people have been paying taxes, people have been trying to dodge the tax man.

Right now we are in the height of tax season, so your mind is likely swimming in numbers, forms and worries about the upcoming deadline. Take a break and read about these famous tax cheats that threw away great careers though being shady or not staying on top of their obligations.

The Actor that Couldn’t Play the Role of Being Responsible

In the 90s, Wesley Snipes was one of the hottest actors around. His name appeared in blockbuster films like Waiting to Exhale, Rising Sun, Demolition Man, and most famously, Blade. In 2006, however, he was acting like a wide-eyed innocent when accused of tax fraud. Faced with six counts of failing to file returns and a count of filing a false return, Snipes tried to claim non-resident alien status, despite being an American citizen by birth. Naturally, this defense failed in a spectacular fashion and Snipes was convicted and jailed. Released in 2013, he’s acting again, but he will always be known for his greatest role as a tax cheat.

The Madam that Didn’t Act Like a Lady

Being a madam is not a “great” career, but had Ms. Fleiss put her attention to more mainstream pursuits, she could have gone far in the business world. She had the moxie to be a real leader. Too bad that in addition to being a famous Hollywood madam, was laundering money and evading taxes. When the law caught up to her she wound up doing prison time and paying those back taxes, and having to sell her pricey home to help with the bills.

The Vocal Artist that Sang a Different Tune

Born in the 30s and cutting his first record in 1956, Willie Nelson enjoys a long and successful career. He’s known to be pretty laid back – perhaps too laid back. Failing to keep on top of his tax obligations saw him owing the government US$ 32,000,000. It also turned out that his investing in tax shelters was a very, very bad idea (he later sued the investment firm that placed his money in these shelters). With a dwindling bank account and a ton of legal trouble on dodging his steps, he recorded The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories? Money from the sale of the album was earmarked for the tax man.

tax evasion prison

Tax Evasion: It’s Not Worth It

It may be amusing to see that even people with millions try to dodge paying their taxes, but rich or poor, famous or not, it is never worth it. Even those that evade taxes for years eventually get caught, and it is never a victimless crime. Friends, family, fortunes and reputations are lost when a tax evader is convicted. Even though the tax system could use some improvement, taxes are for the greater good – healthcare, infrastructure, education, innovations – things we all use and need.

Take the time to do your taxes right and on time. If you are a busy small business in the Quebec region, turn to AF Accounting at tax time, and for all your accounting needs.

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