“Only the little people pay taxes” – Leona Helmsley
Whilst there are many more to choose from, these are some of the most high profile tax scandals we have seen and reflect a good range of circumstances, from crafty dealings and general negligence to pure criminal behaviour.
A very high profile case involving the comedian putting £3.3m a year into a tax shelter. He immediately apologised for moral wrongdoing and paid the price via trial by media and, more brutally, on his next appearance on his channel 4 show 8 out of 10 Cats, during which his fellow regulars Sean Lock and John Richardson dedicated the entire show to humiliating him.
Whilst not doing anything technically illegal, three members of the band – Howard Donald, Gary Barlow and Mark Owen – along with their manager, were accused of putting £26m into a scheme to make their tax liabilities disappear. Could it be magic?
Harry Redknapp was accused of accepting payments totaling around $300,000 during his time as manager of Portsmouth FC from his Chairman via a Monaco bank account. Unusually, ‘Arry managed to convince the jury that he couldn’t write and therefore let his accountant run his business affairs and had no idea what was going on, and was fully cleared of all charges!
The jockey was accused of channeling his income through various overseas bank accounting in different names, failing to declare around £3m in earnings and in 1987 was jailed for three years.
The former world middleweight champion was declared bankrupt after owing £1.3m in taxes, blaming “poor advice throughout my career”. Some of his creditors included a £1,400 restaurant bill and a £450 fine for stealing a lorry that was blocking his way.
The Leaving Las Vegas star had to ‘leave Las Vegas’ after his house was repossessed by the IRS in November 2009 when he reportedly owed $6.6m in back taxes. He blamed the negligence on his former financial manager, claiming to be a victim of bad financial management. His accountant blamed Cage.
The Iceland advert star was declared bankrupt after failing to pay £82k of a £417k tax bill. She, obviously, blamed her accountant and tried to wreck his office before being arrested for assault!
The feather duster wielding comedian, who introduces himself on stage as a “failed accountant” was charged in 1989 with 11 counts of tax evasion. He won the resulting court case and has since based a lot of his material on the subject. “They sent me a self-assessment form the other day. To me! I <em>invented</em> self-assessment.”
The former star of Eastenders and Love Actually filed for bankruptcy herself after being unable to pay a tax bill to HMRC. The experts’ view was that she was one of “several celebrities failing in their obligation to ensure that their financial affairs are dealt with properly”.
The original gangster, alleged to have been responsible for a not inconsiderable amount of murder, in 1931 was finally done for tax evasion. Where Elliot Ness and his Untouchables failed, Frank J Wilson, a former accountant acting as agent for the IRS succeeded in putting Capone behind bars for 11 years.
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