Lauryn Hill Sentenced to Three Months in Prison for Tax Evasion

Lauryn Hill has finally been sentenced on Monday for three counts of tax evasion and has been ordered to spend three months in jail in addition to paying a hefty fine.

The Grammy-award winning singer did her best to pay off most of her debts but even $900,000 didn’t cover all the taxes she owed from 2005 to 2007.

While Hill insisted that she was planning on paying her taxes, the judge was quick to remind her that isn’t up to the citizens to decide when they want to pay.

As she stood in the court room to plead her case, she compared her current situation to that of her ancestors.

“I am a child of former slaves who had a system imposed on them,” the soulful crooner said. “I had an economic system impose on me.”

She further explained her analogy by saying all her life she has been slaving to make money for other people.


“Someone did the math, and it came to around $600 million,” she said about how much revenue her music has earned all together. “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. This wasn’t a life of jet-setting glamour. This was a life of sacrifice with very little time for myself and my children.”

The only problem with her analogy is that as unforgiving as the music industry can be, one always has a choice to enter or to leave.

At the end of the day her fight against the economic system failed and she will have to spend some time behind bars for her failure to pay taxes.

Prosecutors explained that it wasn’t just the taxes from 2005 to 2007 that has her in hot water.

“Although Hill pleaded guilty to charges specifically related to those tax years, her sentence 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,” the prosecutor said in court.

Hill’s lawyer revealed that the former Fugees member has finally paid off all her taxes, but still has interest and other small fees to pay off in addition to the $600,000 she will have to pay after being released.

Either way, he feels as if the sentencing was “fair and reasonable.”

During the trial Lauryn also explained that her purpose for making music in the first place wasn’t for the money and the fame. It was for the pure artistry of it all.

“I didn’t make music for celebrity status,” she told the court. “I made music for artistic and existential catharsis, which was not just necessary for myself but it was also necessary for the generations of oppressed people who hadn’t had their voices expressed like I was able to do it. Music is not something I do from 9 to 5. It’s a state of being, and like a doctor who delivers babies, I’m on call all the time because that’s the kind of work this is.”

Many celebrities and other rappers including Kanye West have openly expressed their respect and love for Hill and what she does with her music but lately her passion has had to be set aside for monetary gain in order to make ends meet.

“It has been reported that I signed a new record deal, and that I did this to pay taxes,” Hill wrote on Tumblr. “Yes, I have recently entered into an agreement with Sony Worldwide Entertainment, to launch a new label, on which my new music will be released.”

It is unfortunate to see Hill have to face these circumstances especially with others in the music industry are indeed given a slap on the wrist for much more severe crimes (Bobby Brown serving a mere nine hours in jail for another DUI and rapper Gucci Mane spent a few weeks in jail after hitting a man over the head with a glass bottle).


Back to top