Grammy-winning singer Lauryn Hill is reportedly facing up to three years behind bars after pleading guilty in a nearly $2 million tax evasion case Friday (June 29) in New Jersey.
According to reports, Hill could also get hit with $75,000 in fines in addition to having to pay over $1.8 million in tax debt.
Hill’s attorney Nathan Hockman said the star had been targeted by the federal government because of her celebrity status. “There are many people in society who fail to file their taxes on time who only face civil liability,” Hockman said. “They chose Ms. Hill in particular because of who she was.” Hill spoke little at her hearing today and stood attentively with her arms crossed in front of her chest when the judge first addressed her. She appeared in a white button-down shirt, blue blazer and long coral skirt. (Star-Ledger)
She avoided incarceration by posting a hefty bail bond at her Newark, New Jersey federal court appearance.
Hill, 37, a hip hop singer and rapper best known as a member of the Fugees and for a Grammy-winning 1998 solo album, pleaded guilty to failing to file federal returns between 2005 and 2007, despite an income of more than $1.8 million primarily from film and recording royalties. Her sentencing date was set for sometime in late November. She was released on $150,000 bail. (Reuters)
Earlier this month, Hill released an open statement which addressed her legal dispute.
“Learning from the past, insulating friends and family from the influence of external manipulation and corruption, is far more important to me than being misunderstood for a season! I did not deliberately abandon my fans, nor did I deliberately abandon any responsibilities, but I did however put my safety, health and freedom and the freedom, safety and health of my family first over all other material concerns! I also embraced my right to resist a system intentionally opposing my right to whole and integral survival. I conveyed all of this when questioned as to why I did not file taxes during this time period. Obviously, the danger I faced was not accepted as reasonable grounds for deferring my tax payments, as authorities, who despite being told all of this, still chose to pursue action against me, as opposed to finding an alternative solution. My intention has always been to get this situation rectified. When I was working consistently without being affected by the interferences mentioned above, I filed and paid my taxes. This only stopped when it was necessary to withdraw from society, in order to guarantee the safety and well-being of myself and my family. As this, and other areas of issue are resolved and set straight, I am able to get back to doing what I should be doing, the way it should be done. This is part of that process. To those supporters who were told that I abandoned them, that is untrue. I abandoned greed, corruption, and compromise, never you, and never the artistic gifts and abilities that sustained me. [sic]” (Ms Lauryn Hill Tumblr)
Reports claim her tax debt dates back to three consecutive years beginning in 2005.
The U.S. Attorney’s office in New Jersey filed charges against reclusive singer Lauryn Hill today on three counts of failure to file tax returns for 2005, 2006 and 2007. During those years, Hill received $1.6 million in income. While Hill receives most of her income from royalties, she also operates four companies: Creations Music, Inc., Boogie Tours, Inc., L.H. Productions 2001, Inc. and Studio 22, Inc. Hill faces a maximum $100,000 penalty and is scheduled to appear in court, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael A. Shipp, on June 29, 2012. (Philly)
Check out a past Lauryn Hill interview below: