As the expression goes, nothing is certain but death and taxes. And though some entertainment celebrities may be able to achieve immortality through their work, not even star power can stand up to the power of the IRS.
Take for example, rapper and television personality, Flavor Flav. The IRS has recently filed a lien against him, claiming he owes just under $1 million in unpaid taxes for the years 2004-2006. These years happen to be those during which the silver screen was graced with the popular reality TV shows, “The Surreal Life” and “Flavor of Love.” In 2009, the state of California filed its own lien, claiming over $180,000.
By no means, however, does this mean that the iconoclastic rapper is IRS public enemy number one. Flavor Flav is far from the first celebrity to find himself in hot financial waters. Academy-award winning director, Martin Scorsese, and fellow Oscar recipient, Al Pacino, have both been cited by the IRS, for $2.85 million and $188,000, respectively. R&B titan, R.Kelly, owes over $5 million in unpaid taxes, says the IRS. Even Newt Gingrich has had his share of tax problems.
However, as Dionne Warwick demonstrated in court, sometimes the IRS is wrong. The people who work for the revenue service are human, after all. They are capable of mistakes but do not make them often. In the vast majority of cases, tax liens do not result in apologies from the IRS, but rather they result in payment.
Once all unpaid taxes are paid, plus any interest and penalties, the lien can be released. Since a tax lien can affect one’s credit, this should be done as quickly as possible, especially considering that a tax lien can stay in collection for 10 years. The IRS can take up to 30 days from the time of the request to release a tax lien. Additional costs associated with this process must also be paid.
Source: Forbes, “Rapper Flavor Flav Gets Bitter Taste of IRS Lien,” Robert Wood, Aug. 20, 2012.