10 Celebrity Tax Evaders


Judy Garland

Best known for her role as Dorothy Gale, Judy Garland unfortunately spent more than she could pay and ran into serious tax troubles.
Best known for her role as Dorothy Gale, Judy Garland unfortunately spent more than she could pay and ran into serious tax troubles.
MGM Studios/Getty Images

"If happy little bluebirds fly, why, oh why, can't I," sang Judy Garland in a refrain that could be her epitaph. It was a long 15 years for Judy Garland between the "Wizard of Oz" and her 1954 remake of the musical "A Star is Born".

The critics loved the remake, and Garland looked headed for resurgence after personal and professional problems, including a drug habit and multiple husbands. Then the studio cut half an hour of footage so theaters could fit in five or six showings in a day instead of three or four. The cuts were an obvious sellout and the critics revolted, panning the new cut and dooming the film to the circle of Dante's Inferno reserved for big-time flops like "Waterworld" and "All the King's Men".

Unfortunately, Garland had spent as if she was a star again, and when the tax bill came due she simply couldn't pay. She repeated the financial mistake when it looked as if she'd dug her way out of debt with a weekly TV show deemed "the biggest talent deal in TV history," only to have the show cancelled after one season.

Eventually the IRS foreclosed on her home, and Garland spent years traveling from hotel to hotel before dying of an accidental drug overdose in 1969. The children she left behind include actress Liza Minelli.

Related Articles


  • Angien, Robert. "Further tax woes for Pete Rose." USA Today. Jan. 24, 2003. (Sept. 30, 2010)http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/2003-01-24-enquirer-rose-taxas_x.htm
  • Compton, Brian. President of Tax Resolution Services. Personal interview. Sept. 27, 2010.
  • Crawford, Krysten. "Martha likely to do prison time." CNN Money. July 15, 2004. (Sept. 30, 2010)http://www.usnews.com/usnews/biztech/articles/040816/16eewhere.htm
  • Deutch, Roni. Personal correspondence. Oct. 1, 2010.
  • FBI. "Famous Cases: Alphonse Capone." (Sept. 30, 2010)http://www.fbi.gov/libref/historic/famcases/capone/capone.htm
  • Fontanez, Stephanie. "Tax-troubled celebrities, politicians, outlaws." CNN Living. April 15, 2008. (Sept. 30, 2010)http://articles.cnn.com/2008-04-15/living/famous.tax_1_tax-evasion-tax-evader-tax-haven?_s=PM:LIVING
  • Geary, Leslie Haggin. "Tax troubles of the rich and famous." CNN Money. Feb. 20, 2003. (Sept. 30, 2010)http://money.cnn.com/2003/02/18/pf/taxes/q_celebritytrouble/
  • Kung, Michelle. "IRS accuses Nicolas Cage of illegally writing off personal expenses." Huffington Post. Feb. 21, 2008. (Sept. 30, 2010)http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/02/21/irs-accuses-nicolas-cage-_n_87718.html
  • New York Times. "Heidi Fleiss." (Sept. 30, 2010) http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/people/f/heidi_fleiss/index.html
  • Quinn, Jane Bryant. "O.J. Simpson's financial planners provide lesson in 'asset protection.'" Los Angeles Business Journal. March 17, 1997. (Sept. 30, 2010)http://www.allbusiness.com/business-planning/613125-1.html
  • The Tax Club News. "Judy Garland's financial stability and inevitable tax evasion." Dec. 21, 2009. (Sept. 30, 2010)http://www.thetaxclubnews.com/entertainment/?p=5
  • US News & World Report. "Leona Helmsley." Aug. 8, 2004. (Sept. 30, 2010)http://www.usnews.com/usnews/biztech/articles/040816/16eewhere.htm
  • Wall Street Journal. "Geithner's Tax Code." Jan. 22, 2009. (Sept. 30, 2010) http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123258571706004547.html


How the IRS Works

How the IRS Works

The IRS or Internal Revenue Service handles taxes. Learn about the history of the IRS and how it enforces taxes.