It’s the season to pay taxes.
At least for any honest, working American.
While most of us (minus a few delinquents) pay taxes, some have tried to cheat the system. And as you’re about to find out, playing games with the IRS only leads to a regrettable outcome.
In fact, in 2014, the U.S. Sentencing Commission reported that nearly two-thirds of tax fraud offenders were sentenced to imprisonment.
Since it is tax time, let’s look at some of the most notorious tax felons who thought they weren’t going to get caught:
This college dropout earned himself billions through investments and trade. But his shameless business practices weren’t without controversy.
He once traded with Iran despite a U.S. boycott of the country and while 53 Americans were being held hostage.
Defying U.S. sanctions may have made Rich rich, but his disregard for tax laws eventually caught up to him. In 1983 he was indicted on 65 criminal charges, including tax fraud and racketeering. He had evaded at least $50 million in federal taxes.
Rudy Giuliani (then U.S. federal prosecutor) called it “the biggest tax evasion case in US history.”
Facing consecutive life sentences, Rich fled to Switzerland with his business partner, Pincus Green. He refused to return to the U.S. – claiming he was the victim of overzealous prosecution.
While avoiding punishment, Rich continued to bring in millions. While his name sat alongside Osama Bin Laden on the FBI’s “Most Wanted” list, he threw lavish parties in Switzerland and Spain.
After nearly two decades of living in exile, Rich was pardoned in 2001 by then President Bill Clinton.
During the Prohibition era in America, notorious mob boss, Al Capone, made millions every year through bootlegging, gambling and other illegal activities.
Famously known as Scarface, Capone was responsible for the murders of a “multitude of his enemies” but avoided prosecution for years by paying off police and officials and threatening witnesses. Surprisingly, this notorious mob boss was never convicted for murder.
But tax evasion… That got him. He was indicted in 1931 after the federal government built a case against him for income-tax fraud.
The jury found the gangster guilty of three felonies and two misdemeanors. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison and fined $50,000. At this point in history, it was the harshest sentence given for tax fraud.
Capone was released in 1939 after serving seven and a half years. He spent the rest of his days out of the spotlight.
Before he was the biggest convicted tax cheat in U.S. history, Walter Anderson was a telecommunications mogul.
And before he received the longest punishment ever given in a tax crime, he had tried to hide $365 million in personal income.
In 1998 alone he made $126 million, but claimed he made $67,939 on this federal tax return. That year he only paid $495 in taxes.
In 2007, Anderson was sentenced to nine years in prison for failing to pay $200 million in taxes and ordered to pay nearly $400 million after penalties and fees.
As you’ve probably already concluded, tax evasion is a serious crime. Any individual who willfully commits the acts of tax evasion usually ends up facing a hefty fine and prison sentence.