Ja Rule Sentenced for Failing to Pay Taxes, Plus Other Celebs With IRS Woes

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Wesley Snipes in 2009.  Photo by Nicolas Genin.
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Wesley Snipes in 2009. Photo by Nicolas Genin.

Ja Rule didn't follow the rules.

The rapper has been sentenced to two years in federal prison for failing to file taxes on over $3 million in income. In addition to prison time, he was ordered to pay $1.1 million in unpaid taxes.

Ja Rule, whose real name is Jeffrey Atkins, is already serving two years in New York's Oneida Correctional Facility after pleading guilty to attempted criminal weapon possession last month. Since his sentences will be served at the same time, he could wind up serving between four and twelve months on the tax charge, depending on his release date for the gun issue.

Before being sentenced, Atkins made a statement, saying "I in no way attempted to deceive the government or do anything illegal. I was a young man who made a lot of money--I'm getting a little choked up--I didn't know how to deal with these finances, and I didn't have people to guide me, so I made mistakes." Uncle Sam's statement was equally clear: it's his money and he wants it.

Ja Rule, who received a Grammy nod in 2002 for his album "Pain is Love," is hardly the first celeb to feel the pain of tax evasion charges. Here's a shortlist of other celebs who have drawn the ire of the IRS.

Actor Wesley Snipes is currently serving his three-year sentence for failing to file a tax return. The "White Men Can't Jump" star did not file tax returns from 1999 to 2004, despite earning over $10 million on the "Blade" trilogy during that time period. Snipes blamed the situation on his former advisors'"an accountant who lost his licenses and the founder of a tax protest group'"both of whom were convicted of tax fraud and conspiracy.

In 1990, the IRS seized most of country singer Willie Nelson's assets, claiming that he owed in excess of $16 million in taxes. While the singer struggled to work out a repayment agreement, he settled a suit with the accounting firm Price Waterhouse, who allegedly "failed to properly advise its wealthy clients that a tax shelter it recommended would not survive scrutiny by the International Revenue Service."

It looks like the "Braxton Family Values" don't necessarily include paying taxes. Singer Toni Braxton and her estranged husband Keirston Lewis reportedly owe $400k in income taxes from 2007 and 2008. In 2009, the "Un-Break My Heart" songstress was sued by City National Bank for defaulting on a $900k loan, and sources say she has defaulted on her mortgage payments for her home in California. It looks like she'll be looking for a way to un-break the bank.

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