Infamous Tax Evader – Willie Nelson
Willie Hugh Nelson (c1933-) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, author, poet, actor, and activist. The critical success of the album Shotgun Willie (1973), combined with the critical and commercial success of Red Headed Stranger (1975) and Stardust (1978), made Nelson one of the most recognized artists in country music. He was one of the main figures of outlaw country, a subgenre of country music that developed in the late 1960s as a reaction to the conservative restrictions of the Nashville sound. Nelson has acted in over 30 films, co-authored several books, and has been involved in activism for the use of biofuels and the legalization of marijuana.
In the summer of 1977, Nelson discovered that his manager, Reshen, had been filing tax extensions and not paying the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). In 1978, after he fired Reshen Nelson appointed accounting firm Price Waterhouse who recommended he invest in tax shelters. Unfortunately, the tax shelters ultimately flopped and the IRS disallowed his deductions for 1980, 1981 and 1982 (at a time that Nelson’s income multiplied). After seizing most of his assets in 1990, the federal government forced Willie to pay over $16 million in back taxes and fines for his involvement with a bogus tax shelter. Later, Nelson’s attorney renegotiated a settlement with the IRS in which he paid $6 million. Nelson released The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories? as a double album, with all profits destined for the IRS. Many of his assets were auctioned and purchased by friends, who donated or rented his possessions to him for a nominal fee. He sued Price Waterhouse, contending that they put his money in illegal tax shelters. The lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount and Nelson cleared his debts by 1993.
"You’d be stupid not to try to cut your tax bill and those that don’t are stupid in business"
- Bono: U2