9 Rich People Who’ve Been Busted for Tax Evasion

Leona Helmsley

In 1989, Regular Joes all over the world rejoiced when “Queen of Mean” millionaire Leona Helmsley was jailed for tax evasion, after telling her employee “we don’t pay taxes, only the little people pay taxes.” Her husband, Harry Helmsley, was charged along with her, but was deemed unfit to stand trial due to his advanced age. She was found guilty, and ordered to pay back $1.7 million to the IRS before serving 18 months in prison. She found one last way to spite her unsupportive family by leaving her remaining $12 million fortune to her Maltese puppy, Trouble.

Lionel Richie

American singer/songwriter Lionel Richie has seen great success in the music industry from the 1960s to today. He has written, produced, and sung tons of hit songs over the last 40 years, yet one of the things that he is most infamous for is his 2012 run-in with the IRS over a 2-year-old tax bill. He narrowly avoided prosecution by ponying up the $1.2 million just in time.

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John Travolta

John Travolta had some high-profile issues with the IRS in 1995, coincidentally not long after he joined the Church of Scientology, which takes a strong stance against taxes. He was asked to pay back $1 million to cover deductions, which the IRS claim are “improper,” but only paid around $600,000 after a court determined he wasn’t liable to pay the remaining $500,000 penalty.

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