August 28, 2014

Singer, actress and former Miss America Vanessa Williams is the latest in a progression of celebrities to be hit by the IRS hammer. According to various news reports, the IRS filed a lien against Williams for $369,249 against the entertainer’s 2011 federal income tax return. Williams reportedly failed to pay an IRS assessment posted in 2012, which prompted the IRS to file the lien on August 13, 2014.

During the Hollywood segment of the Doug Banks Radio Show, the talk show hosts raise a good question: “How does this happen to celebrities?” After all, during the 2011 period of the lien, Williams had just finished Ugly Betty and was starring in Desperate Housewives. The money  was flowing, so why wasn’t the IRS paid?


Maybe it was the accountant’s error and Williams wasn’t even aware of the lien, similar to Conan O’Brien’s brush with the IRS earlier this year.

Here She Is . . .

This is not the first time the 51 year old Williams has had a brush with scandal. Soon after being crowned the first black Miss America in September 1983, nude photographs of the beauty queen that had been taken before her pageant days surfaced. The photos were published without her consent in Penthouse magazine. As a result of the scandal, Williams relinquished her crown to Suzette Charles.

Williams rebounded from the scandal, moving on to a successful recording career. Her debut album The Right Stuff, released in 1988, went gold, along with earning three Grammy nominations for Williams, including Best New Artist. Her third album, Save the Best for Last, released in 1994, went platinum. Williams has also enjoyed success on the silver screen and on television.

In Good Company

The notice for the lien was reportedly delivered to the office of Williams’s accountant in New York City, although Williams lives in Chappaqua, New York. There was no public statement from Williams or her accountant concerning whether Williams was aware of the lien or of her plans to handle the matter. (Comedian and talk show host Conan O’Brien nearly lost his house in Westerly, Rhode Island this year when notice of $8,000 in delinquent county taxes was delivered to the wrong address.)

Other celebrities who have run into trouble with the IRS over unpaid federal income taxes include Lauryn Hill, former lead singer for the Fugees, Courtney Love, widow of grunge rocker Kurt Cobain and singer for the group Hole; soul singer Lionel Richie, rapper Flo Rida and action star Wesley Snipes. Both Hill and Snipes served time in federal prison for failure to pay federal income taxes. At present, there is no indication that criminal charges are pending against Williams.