Thursday, July 18, 2013

Lauryn Hill Reports to Prison

Lauryn Hill - Wikimedia Commons/Brennan Schnell

Last week, Lauryn Hill's tax issues landed her in a prison cell.  Hill was sentenced to three months in federal prison for failing to file tax returns on earnings of more than $1.8 million purportedly collected on royalties between 2005 and 2007.  She will serve her three months in the low security female facility in Danbury, Connecticut.

Hill's prison sentence highlights the disparities that exist between artists and the music industry.  Hill has sold more than 16 million records, but "lives modestly considering the amount of money her music has earned for others."  When she appeared before the court in May 2013, she stated:  "Someone did the math, and [record sales] came to around $600 million, . . . And I sit here before you trying to figure out how to pay a tax debt? If that's not like enough to slavery, I don't know."

According to CNN Entertainment: "The U.S. attorney's office said that the income in question was earned mainly from music and film royalties that were paid to companies she owned from 2005 to 2008. According to the prosecutor, the sentence handed down 'also takes into account additional income and tax losses for 2008 and 2009 -- when she also failed to file federal returns -- along with her outstanding tax liability to the state of New Jersey, for a total income of approximately $2.3 million and total tax loss of approximately $1,006,517.'"

Following her three months in federal prison, Hill will serve three months of home confinement followed by a year of supervised probation.  Reportedly, Hill has signed a new record deal agreeing to produce new music in order to pay the fines, penalties and back taxes.