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John Malone, JD, CTC
October 20, 2023

Rapper Tyga’s $8 Million Tax Debt: What happened?

Delaying your tax payment can have severe consequences for individuals and businesses alike. One prominent case that sheds light on the consequences of tax fraud is that of rapper Tyga, who found himself buried under a staggering $8 million tax bill. By examining Tyga's tax troubles, we can learn valuable lessons on how to avoid tax fraud and follow the correct tax optimization strategies.

Understanding Tyga's Tax Problem

Tyga, whose real name is Michael R. Stevenson, gained fame as a successful rapper with a massive following. However, his financial success did not shield him from the prying eyes of the IRS. In 2019, Tyga faced an IRS levy notice for a balance due of over $2 million, which eventually grew to $2,329,678 due to penalties and interest.

Tyga's case is not uncommon among celebrities and individuals with complex financial affairs. There are generally three types of taxpayers: ordinary individuals, those with aggressive tax strategies, and individuals who view their tax obligations as mere suggestions. Tyga falls into the third category, submitting tax returns that represent the correct tax but with no intention of paying the full amount.

According to the IRS Data Book for fiscal year 2022, there were over 9 million delinquent taxpayer accounts totaling more than $120 billion in assessed tax, penalties, and interest. Tyga's case highlights the prevalence of tax delinquency and the need for stricter enforcement measures.

The Consequences of Non-Payment

When taxpayers fail to pay their taxes, the IRS has various collection tools at its disposal. These tools range from sending notices to levying assets such as bank accounts or redirecting payments owed to the taxpayer. While physical asset seizures are less common nowadays, the IRS can still wield significant power to recover outstanding tax debts.

In Tyga's case, the IRS issued a notice of intent to levy, which meant they could seize his assets or instruct third parties to pay the IRS instead. However, taxpayers have the right to request a Collection Due Process or Equivalent Hearing by submitting Form 12153 within 30 days of receiving the notice. Tyga exercised this right and filed a petition with the Tax Court on October 27, 2022.

The Tax Court's Decision

In Tyga's hearing, Judge Patrick Urda reviewed the facts of the case and shed light on the tax priorities in situations like this. Tyga had already been making monthly payments of $65,000 under a previous installment agreement. However, due to a decline in touring income, it became increasingly unlikely that he could sustain these payments.

The appeals officer handling Tyga's case emphasized the importance of filing and payment compliance. Tyga had failed to make estimated tax payments since 2011 and had not made any estimated payments for 2022. Despite making a net business income of $73,211 and incurring living expenses of $60,145, Tyga's lack of compliance with estimated tax payments weighed heavily on the appeals officer's decision.

Tyga's representative proposed an installment agreement of $13,000 per month to cover all liabilities from 2012 to 2019, totaling over $8 million. However, the settlement officer determined that Tyga could afford monthly payments of $87,169 based on his monthly income of $146,013 and expenses of $58,844. The settlement officer rejected the representative's offer due to Tyga's non-compliance with estimated tax payments.

Judge Urda supported the settlement officer's decision, stating that a settlement officer does not abuse their discretion by rejecting collection alternatives when a taxpayer is not in compliance with estimated tax obligations. Tyga's chronic failure to pay estimated taxes and accumulate outstanding liabilities justified the denial of collection alternatives.

Lessons Learned: Achieve Tax-Free Wealth - The Right Way

Tyga's tax troubles serve as a cautionary tale for individuals and businesses. To avoid this and ensure compliance with the law, consider the following lessons:

1. Pay Your Taxes on Time

Paying your taxes on time is a fundamental obligation of every taxpayer. Avoid the temptation to view your tax obligations as mere suggestions and make timely payments to prevent penalties and interest from accumulating.

2. Make Estimated Tax Payments

If you have income that is not subject to withholding, such as self-employment income or investment gains, it is essential to make estimated tax payments throughout the year. Estimated tax payments help you avoid underpayment penalties and ensure that you stay current with your tax obligations.

3. Keep Accurate Financial Records

Maintaining accurate financial records is crucial for accurately reporting your income and deductions. Having organized records makes it easier to prepare your tax return and respond to any inquiries from the IRS.

4. Seek Professional Tax Advice from A Tax Strategist or CPA

Working with a qualified tax strategist or CPA can help you navigate the complexities of the tax system and ensure that you comply with all relevant tax laws. A tax professional can provide personalized advice and help you optimize your tax strategies to minimize your tax liability.

5. Respond Promptly to IRS Notices

If you receive a notice from the IRS regarding your tax obligations, it is crucial to respond promptly and provide the requested information. Ignoring or delaying your response can lead to further penalties and potential legal consequences.

6. Explore Tax Optimization Strategies

Understanding the tax code and exploring legitimate tax optimization strategies can help you minimize your tax liability. Consult with a tax strategist or CPA to identify potential tax-saving opportunities and ensure that you are taking advantage of all available deductions and credits.

7. Regularly Review Your Tax Situation

Tax laws and regulations change regularly, so it is essential to stay informed and regularly review your tax situation. A proactive approach can help you identify any potential issues or opportunities for tax optimization.

8. Maintain Open Communication with the IRS

If you are facing financial difficulties or are unable to meet your tax obligations, it is crucial to maintain open communication with the IRS. Exploring options such as installment agreements or offers in compromise can help you resolve your tax debt while avoiding more severe consequences.

9. Learn from Others' Mistakes

Tyga's tax troubles provide valuable lessons on the importance of compliance and prompt payment of taxes. By studying and learning from high-profile cases like this, you can avoid making similar mistakes and ensure that you maintain a clean tax record.

10. Regularly Update Your Tax Knowledge

Tax laws and regulations are complex and ever-changing. Make it a priority to stay updated on tax developments and changes that may affect your tax situation. Continuing education and staying informed will help you navigate the tax landscape effectively. Anomaly CPA publishes new tax strategies and forward thinking financial content for real estate investors, entrepreneurs and digital business owners that you won’t find anywhere else. Subscribe now and receive two FREE Ebooks

In conclusion, delaying your tax payment can have severe consequences for individuals and businesses. Tyga's tax troubles highlight the importance of compliance, timely payments, and accurate reporting. By learning from Tyga's missteps and adopting proactive tax strategies, you can avoid tax fraud and maintain a healthy financial standing. Remember, seeking professional tax advice and staying informed are essential components of a successful tax strategy.

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