The buzz surrounding the Panama Papers continues to grow, with more people being exposed each day for laundering money, dodging sanctions and avoiding taxes all over the world. Even David Cameron was embroiled in controversy after details of his father’s Bahamas business interests were leaked.
Here are a few historical examples of other prominent people who were placed under tax investigation.
- Al Capone
Perhaps no tax evader is more notorious than the American gangster, Al Capone. During the prohibition period, he made his fortune from bootlegging and other, more nefarious activities. While the courts had difficulty making charges stick to Capone, they were eventually able to bring him up on tax evasion charges. Apparently, money earned from distributing illegal contraband is still subject to tax.
- Wesley Snipes
The American actor famous for starring in Hollywood blockbusters including the Blade trilogy and White Man Can’t Jump was given a three-year prison sentence in 2010 for failing to file income taxes for at least 10 years. He was also charged with trying to illegally collect substantial tax refunds and failing to file returns at all for several years in the early 2000s. All told, the actor earned more than £24 million without paying any taxes during the period in question.
- Paul Hogan
The beloved Aussie actor and star of Crocodile Dundee was once placed under tax investigation by Australian authorities. He and his business partner, John Cornell, were suspected of taking millions of dollars’ worth of royalties from his films and concealing them in international tax havens. He was banned from leaving Australia for nearly a decade, and the case finally came to a close a few years ago with a settlement that involved ‘no admission of guilt’, according to the celebrity.
- Gary Barlow
The former X Factor judge and friend of the Queen is worth upwards of £50 million, but that didn’t stop him from allegedly entering into a tax evasion scheme. Apparently, he owed HMRC upwards of £20 million, which is a sizeable chunk of his total net worth. With that in mind, it’s easy to understand why he was motivated to try and dodge the tax.
- Prince Charles
Not even British royalty is above tax law – or at least not since 1992 when the Queen volunteered to pay income tax and capital gains tax. (It’s worth noting that this allowed her to dodge inheritance tax.) Back in 2012, Prince Charles was singled out for suspected tax avoidance through his £700 million hereditary estate.
It’s worth noting that being under tax investigation doesn’t make a person guilty of tax avoidance. By the same token, attempting to mitigate tax isn’t the same thing as trying to dodge it. And if you fear that you may be falling under the scrutiny of HMRC, remember that you can seek help with tax investigations from specialists such as Associate Services.
Tax can be a bit of minefield, so it’s always worth seeking advice. Not only will errors leave you red-faced, they can also lead to heavy fines. With this in mind, it’s better to be safe than sorry.