TurboTax is up-to-date for your 2017 taxes, start now!

Learn more about Tax Reform here tax reform information.

Infamous Tax Crimes

Updated for Tax Year 2017


OVERVIEW

Although most Americans fill out their tax returns diligently and honestly, not all taxpayers are as respectful of the law. Some wealthy taxpayers cheat because they feel they already pay more than their fair share of taxes, while some regard the entire tax system as unconstitutional. Regardless of the reason, it's big news when the rich and famous are convicted of tax crimes. You're likely to know at least one or more of the famous names on this list of notorious tax cheats.


Al Capone

Al Capone

Al Capone is likely the most notorious tax evader in history. Although well-known as the king of Chicago gangsters, the federal government couldn't put together any criminal charges that would stick until they nailed Capone for failing to pay taxes. In 1931, the gangster was convicted of five counts of income tax evasion and sentenced to 11 years in prison.

Wesley Snipes

Wesley Snipes

Actor Wesley Snipes was convicted in 2008 on three counts of failing to file a tax return. After losing his appeal, he was sentenced to three years in prison. Snipes' defense asserted that a rising tide of Americans feel they are constitutionally protected from paying taxes. Clearly, U.S. courts feel differently.

Dennis Kozlowski

Dennis Kozlowski

Dennis Kozlowski was the chief executive officer of Tyco, International in the late 1990s during the heady days of the raging stock market. Like many of his peers at the time, Kozlowski flaunted his wealth, but his failure to pay taxes on 12 paintings from masters such as Claude Monet resulted in an indictment for tax evasion. After settling his tax bill, Kozlowski promptly headed to prison after he and an associate were convicted of stealing more than $600 million from his company.

Leona Helmsley

Dennis Kozlowski

In the 1980s, billionaire hotel operator and real estate investor Leona Helmsley was dubbed "The Queen of Mean" for her attitude towards others. A former housekeeper claimed that Helmsley once said, "We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes." Attorney Rudy Giuliani was able to convict her in a 1989 tax evasion trial, after which Helmsley spent 18 months in federal prison.

Pete Rose

Pete Rose

One of the most controversial figures in baseball history for his admitted gambling habit, Pete Rose ran afoul of the IRS in the early 1990s. After pleading guilty to filing two false income tax returns, Rose spent six months in jail between 1990 and 1991. Rose's crime included failing to report income generated from memorabilia and autograph sales.

Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson

In the late 1980s, the IRS investigated singer Willie Nelson for a bogus tax shelter that was ultimately disallowed, triggering a staggering $16.7 million tax bill. Although the amount was later reduced to $6 million by his attorney, Nelson still couldn't make payments to the satisfaction of the IRS, which raided Nelson's home and seized nearly all of his property in 1990.

As part of a later negotiation, the IRS agreed to an unusual revenue-sharing agreement with Nelson in which part of the proceeds of a new album would help pay down his tax bill.

Sophia Loren

Sophia Loren

Sometimes, star power can outshine a person's legal transgressions. Perhaps there's no greater case in point than actress Sophia Loren, widely regarded as one of the most beautiful women of all time, and one of the most awarded actresses in movie history to boot. While it is rarely discussed these days, Loren served 18 days in jail for a tax evasion conviction back in 1982.

Heidi Fleiss

Heidi Fleiss

Heidi Fleiss rose to fame in the 1990s after a high-profile bust for running a prostitution ring for wealthy individuals. However, the woman known as the "Hollywood Madam" was tried not just for her salacious occupation but also for income tax evasion and money laundering. In addition to paying back taxes and fines, she was handed a 37-month prison sentence in 1996.

John Gotti

John Gotti

Know as “The Teflon Don” for his ability to escape prosecution for numerous alleged crimes, John Gotti finally met his match when he was convicted and sent to prison in 1992. As with noted gangster Al Capone, Gotti was nabbed for tax fraud after he failed to file tax returns from 1984 through 1989.

However, unlike Capone, Gotti was also convicted on numerous other criminal counts, including murder, conspiracy, racketeering and obstruction of justice. The net result was a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Get every deduction you deserve

TurboTax Deluxe searches more than 350 tax deductions and credits so you get your maximum refund, guaranteed.

For only $59.99$39.99*
Start for Free

Looking for more information?

The above article is intended to provide generalized financial information designed to educate a broad segment of the public; it does not give personalized tax, investment, legal, or other business and professional advice. Before taking any action, you should always seek the assistance of a professional who knows your particular situation for advice on taxes, your investments, the law, or any other business and professional matters that affect you and/or your business.


Security is built into everything we do
Here's how
* Important Offer Details and Disclosures
  • TURBOTAX ONLINE/MOBILE

  • Try for Free/Pay When You File: TurboTax online and mobile pricing is based on your tax situation and varies by product. Absolute Zero $0 federal (forms 1040EZ/1040A) + $0 state limited time offer only available with TurboTax Free Edition; offer may change or end at any time without notice. Actual prices are determined at the time of print or e-file and are subject to change without notice. Savings and price comparisons based on anticipated price increase. Special discount offers may not be valid for mobile in-app purchases.
  • QuickBooks Self-Employed Offer with TurboTax Self-Employed: To receive your complimentary subscription to QuickBooks Self-Employed through 4/30/19, you must pay for your 2017 TurboTax Self-Employed return by 4/17/18 and sign-in and access your QuickBooks Self-Employed account via mobile app or at https://selfemployed.intuit.com/turbotax at least twice by 7/15/18. You will have the option of renewing your QuickBooks Self-Employed subscription by 4/30/19 for another year at the then-current subscription rate. You may cancel your subscription at any time from within the QuickBooks Self-Employed billing section. See QuickBooks.com for price comparison. Offer not valid for existing QuickBooks Self-Employed subscribers already on a payment plan.
  • Pays for itself (TurboTax Self-Employed): Estimates based on deductible business expenses calculated at the self-employment tax income rate (15%) for tax year 2017. Actual results will vary based on your tax situation.
  • Anytime, anywhere: Internet access required; standard data rates apply to download and use mobile app.
  • Fastest refund possible: Fastest tax refund with e-file and direct deposit; tax refund time frames will vary.
  • Pay for TurboTax out of your federal refund: A $X.XX Refund Processing Service fee applies to this payment method. Prices are subject to change without notice.
  • TurboTax Help and Support: Access to a TurboTax specialist is included with TurboTax Deluxe, Premier, Self-Employed and TurboTax Live; not included with Free Edition (but is available as an upgrade). TurboTax specialists are available to provide general customer help and support using the TurboTax product. SmartLook on-screen help is available on a PC, laptop or the TurboTax mobile app. Service, area of expertise, experience levels, wait times, hours of operation and availability vary, and are subject to restriction and change without notice.
  • Tax Advice, Expert Review and TurboTax Live: Access to tax advice and Expert Review (the ability to have a Tax Expert review and/or sign your tax return) is included with TurboTax Live or as an upgrade from another version, and available through October 15, 2018. These services are provided only by credentialed CPAs, EAs or tax attorneys. State tax advice is free. Some tax topics or situations may not be included as part of this service, which shall be determined in the tax expert’s sole discretion. In the event your return is reviewed by a tax expert and requires a significant level of tax advice or actual preparation, the tax expert may be required to sign your return as the preparer at which point they will assume primary responsibility for the preparation of your return. Expert Review [and TurboTax Live] not available on the TurboTax mobile app or when using a web browser on your mobile phone. On-screen help is available on a PC, laptop or the TurboTax mobile app. Service, area of expertise, experience levels, wait times, hours of operation and availability vary, and are subject to restriction and change without notice.
  • Tax Return Access and My Docs features: Included with TurboTax Deluxe, Premier, Self-Employed, TurboTax Live or with PLUS benefits. Access to all tax-related documents we have on file for you is available through 10/31/2019. Terms and conditions may vary and are subject to change without notice.
  • #1 best-selling tax software: Based on aggregated sales data for all tax year 2016 TurboTax products.
  • Most Popular: TurboTax Deluxe is our most popular product among TurboTax Online users with more complex tax situations.
  • CompleteCheck: Covered under the TurboTax accurate calculations and maximum refund guarantees.
  • #1 rated online tax prep provider: Based on independent comparison of the best online tax software by TopTenReviews.com March 13, 2017.
  • Get tips based on your tax and credit data to help get you to where you want to be: Tax and credit data accessed upon your consent.
  • TURBOTAX CD/DOWNLOAD SOFTWARE

  • TurboTax CD/Download products: Price includes tax preparation and printing of federal tax returns and free federal e-file of up to 5 federal tax returns. Additional fees apply for e-filing state returns. E-file fees do not apply to New York state returns. Savings and price comparison based on anticipated price increase. Prices subject to change without notice.
  • Fastest refund possible: Fastest tax refund with e-file and direct deposit; tax refund time frames will vary.
  • Pay for TurboTax out of your federal refund: A $X.XX Refund Processing Service fee applies to this payment method. Prices are subject to change without notice. This benefit is available with TurboTax Federal products except TurboTax Business.
  • About our TurboTax Product Experts: Customer service and product support vary by time of year.
  • About our credentialed tax experts: Live tax advice via phone is included with Premier and Home & Business; fees apply for Basic and Deluxe customers. State tax advice is free. Service, experience levels, hours of operation and availability vary, and are subject to restriction and change without notice. Not available for TurboTax Business customers.
  • #1 best-selling tax software: Based on aggregated sales data for all tax year 2016 TurboTax products.
  • Data Import: Imports financial data from participating companies; may require a free Intuit online account. Quicken and QuickBooks import not available with TurboTax installed on a Mac. Imports from Quicken (2016 and higher) and QuickBooks Desktop (2012 and higher); both Windows only. Quicken import not available for TurboTax Business. Quicken products provided by Quicken Inc., Quicken import subject to change.