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Sharon & Ozzy Osbourne Owe Back Taxes

Ozzy Osbourne
Ozzy Osbourne
Josh Board


With tax day around the corner, no better time then now to have a story about the latest singer to run into tax problems. Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne could lose their US home if they don’t pay the $2 million tax debt on it.

They’re one of the wealthiest couples in the UK, and aside from Ozzy’s music career, Sharon has had success with the Osbourne’s reality show, being a judge on the X Factor and America’s Got Talent, and now a panelist on The Talk. Sharon was also the first of the Osbourne clan to run into tax problems, when in 2009 she was slapped with a $23,000 tax bill to the State of California for payments going back to 2007.

TMZ has reported that daughter Kelly was hit with a tax lien of $34,000 last month.

Over the last few years, Ozzy and Sharon have accumulated a bit of debt. Documents filed by tax authorities state that “John” and Sharon Osbourne, ‘self-employed’, owe $718,948 in tax from 2008, and $1,024,175 from 2009.

Sharon did what most celebrities would do in this situation. She fired off a message on Twitter last Saturday. It said: You can’t rely on anyone but yourself. You have to be on top of your own business affairs. My fault. Lesson learned.

The most famous tax problem celebrity is Willie Nelson, who was hit with a $16.7 million tax bill in 1990. That stemmed from him not paying taxes between ’78 and ’82, and owing $6.5 mil. An additional $10.2 million was tacked on in penalties and interest. The IRS froze his accounts and auctioned off items in his personal position. Many of his fans bought those items, only to return them back to Nelson. Eventually, the IRS claimed Nelson owed $30 million, but that they’d settle for $17 million. This got Nelson poking fun of that in various commercials, and even releasing the album IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories?

Releasing a record like that was nothing new. Marvin Gaye released an album called Here, My Dear, when he owed money on alimony payments.

When John Cleese played Spreckels Theatre here in 2009, he was calling it The Alimony Tour. His third wife got a $13 million divorce settlement, and he had to pay her a million a year in alimony. Perhaps he should’ve known better before marrying wife #3, but the comedic actor and Monty Python member does have a law degree – and is smart enough never to have run afoul of the IRS.

The Isley Brothers lead singer Ronald declared bankruptcy in 1997 after the IRS seized his property, including a yacht. He’s currently serving a 37-month sentence for tax evasion and failing to file a tax return.

Mr. Vegas, Wayne Newton, filed for bankruptcy in the early ‘90s with $20 million of debt. He got back into financial trouble in 2005, when the IRS claimed he owed them almost $2 million in back taxes.

Another singer that had a big Vegas show – Toni Braxton – filed for Chapter 7 a second time, late last year. She had well over $10 million in unpaid debts to numerous creditors, one of which was the IRS.

Wesley Snipes was recently given a sentence for years of failure to pay taxes. What a lot of people don’t realize is, the IRS is really good about working on payment plans with people, and the interest isn’t outrageous. Snipes was given jail time for continuing to run afoul of the tax laws. He made $40 million since 1999 (thanks mostly to the Blade films) and between 1999 and 2004, he never filed taxes. In 2006, he even tried to get a $7 million refund.

What a lot of people don’t realize is, if you don’t file, the IRS does a Substitute ForReturn for you. This doesn’t work so well for the rich and famous, as the IRS isn’t writing off all the things those folks probably would for deductions.

These days the IRS has more sophisticated resources and incentives (hundreds of billions owed to the federal government) for tracking down non-filers.

I’m guessing the Osbourne’s are in no real danger of losing anything they own. The IRS would have no problem believing they could pay back anything they owe from future earnings, and wouldn’t make them sell houses or personal items, the way David Crosby had to sell a yacht for a million bucks when he ran into financial problems.

Ozzy’s son Jack Osbourne has a production company (Jacko Productions) that has a documentary on Ozzy that is supposed to hit the theatres later this year. One of the things covered is all the craziness his dad was involved in over the years. We assume Jack has learned from the things that almost killed his father, and made him the punchline to many jokes.

Let’s hope Jack doesn’t also follow in the family footsteps and run into problems with the IRS in the future. Let’s also hope Ozzy doesn’t bite the head off an IRS agent.