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article imageGrammy-winning Lauryn Hill has two weeks to pay $500,000 tax bill

By Yukio Strachan     Apr 23, 2013 in Crime
Newark - Eight-time Grammy-winning singer Lauryn Hill has two weeks to pay $504,000 in back taxes, if she doesn't she faces a potential three years in prison for tax evasion, a federal judge in Newark, New Jersey said Monday afternoon.
The 37-year-old mother of six was due to be sentenced on three misdemeanor counts of failing to file three years of tax returns, The Star-Ledger reported. Hill pleaded guilty last year to not paying federal taxes on $1.8 million earned from 2005 to 2007. At that time, her attorney said she would pay restitution by the time of her sentencing. It was revealed Monday in court that Hill has paid $50,000 of a total of $554,000, The Associated Press writes.
But U.S. Magistrate Court Judge Madeline Cox Arleo was incredulous, said the Ledger, noting Hill’s “substantial assets.” These include a stream of royalties from Hill’s back catalog.
“This is not someone who stands before the court penniless,” Arleo told Hill's attorney, Nathan Hochman. Hill did not speak during her appearance, according to news reports.
Arleo gave Hill until the Friday before May 6 to pay off her criminal tax liability, the Ledger writes. The judge also declared she will not postpone the hearing again, absent extraordinary circumstances, the New Jersey Paper said.
“Actions speak louder than words,” she said.
After the proceeding, Hochman told reporters that Hill was about to sign a loan against two properties that would allow her to pay the remainder of the restitution before her next court date.
"I fully expect that by May 3 Ms. Hill will be able to pay back all the restitution she has," Hochman said, the AP reported.
Today’s proceeding also revealed that Hill, whose last album was released in 2002, has plans to release new music. From the Star Ledger:
Last summer, Hill signed a new recording contract, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra Moser said. Under the terms of the deal, Hill was to receive $1 million for recording five songs, plus additional money if she completed a new album of music, she told Arleo.
But Hill has yet to complete the initial five songs, and a tour she embarked upon late last year did not generate as much revenue as anticipated, Moser said.
After the hearing, a Hill representative said the singer has signed a deal with Sony Music, but he declined to discuss the terms.
The news comes just days after local media reported she was being sued by her landlord for not paying her rent, according to The Star-Ledger.
The Ledger said her lawyer disputed those reports, though he acknowledged the singer is facing a lawsuit by the town that alleges she uses the mansion on Irving Avenue for rehearsals and to house visiting musicians, a violation of zoning ordinances.
The South Orange resident started out as the lead singer of the Fugees and received critical acclaim in 1998 for her first solo album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” which went on to win five Grammy Awards.
But she eventually disappeared from the music scene. In June, the former Fugee released a statement on her tumblr explaining to her fans that hip hop was a culture full of "hostility, false entitlement, manipulation, racial prejudice, sexism and ageism." As a result, she stopped paying her taxes, she said.
"When I was working consistently without being affected by the interferences mentioned above, I filed and paid my taxes," Hill wrote. "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."
"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," she said in the statement.
More about Lauryn Hill, Tax evasion, Taxes, Eviction, Sony
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