Special Report

The Biggest Celebrity IRS Audits

14. Nelly
> Debt: $2.40 million

In 2016, TMZ reported that Grammy Award-winning hip-hop performer Nelly had been hit with an IRS tax lien of more than $2.4 million. TMZ also said Nelly, whose real name is Cornell Iral Haynes Jr., tried to work out a settlement with the IRS. Nelly’s fans came to his rescue. According to BET, fans on Twitter started a social-media campaign to help the rapper pay off his debts by streaming his songs.

13. Ja Rule
> Debt: $3.10 million

The rapper (“Holla Holla”) and actor (“Half Past Dead”), born Jeffrey Atkins, is no stranger to legal troubles, with arrests on drug and gun possession charges, and a two-year prison sentence for attempted possession of a weapon. In 2011, he received an additional 28 months – to be served concurrently – for failing to pay taxes on his earnings from 2004 to 2006. In 2021, it was reported that Ja Rule and his wife, Aisha Atkins, owed the IRS a total of about $3 million for that tax period and also the period from 2012 to 2017. He is said to have struck a deal with the government to pay off the debt and avoid more jail time.

Source: Christopher Polk / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

12. Rick Ross
> Debt: $4 million

Rapper Rick Ross settled a tax bill of more than $4 million in 2012. He was originally hit with a tax lien in 2016 and the IRS was threatening to seize his assets. Representatives of Ross told Billboard magazine that the “issue arose from an incorrect filing by a prior accountant for the 2012 tax year.”

Source: Courtesy of Katt Williams via Facebook

11. Katt Williams
> Debt: $4.03 million

Besides an arrest and getting into fights in 2012, comedian Katt Williams had major tax problems that year. He owed the IRS $4 million in taxes, stretching back to 2008. Williams was in the hole for $3.2 million from 2008 and $825,392 from 2009. Those money totals did not include a 2010 lien in which the IRS demanded $284,000.

Source: Al Bello / Getty Images

10. Floyd Mayweather
> Debt: $5.60 million

Boxer Floyd Mayweather’s tax problems have been well-chronicled, with some news sources putting the amount owed at as much as $22 million. Mayweather’s tax issue is one of the reasons why he agreed to fight Irish martial-arts fighter Conor McGregor in a match in Las Vegas in 2017. Mayweather had asked the IRS for a reprieve on his taxes until after his bout with McGregor. “It’s the latest in a cycle for Mayweather,” said ESPN, “who paid $15.5 million in taxes for 2001, 2003-2007 and 2009 only after the IRS filed liens against him, according to documents filed to the Clark County Recorder in Las Vegas.”

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