The rapper DMX, also known as Earl Simmons, could serve up to five years in prison after pleading guilty in federal court on Thursday to using multiple ploys to avoid paying as much as $1.7 million in taxes, NBC News reported.
“No matter who you are or whatever fame you may have achieved, the law applies equally to all, and no one is exempt from the shared obligation to pay our taxes,” acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said, adding that the entertainer did the right thing by pleading guilty and agreeing to pay his back taxes to the Internal Revenue Service.
The IRS said the rapper and actor earned millions of dollars from 2002 through 2005 when his hip-hop records were at the top of the charts. Since at least 2005, the agency had been pursuing him for back taxes. He failed to file tax returns from 2010 through 2015, and he filed a false affidavit in bankruptcy court, claiming he was unaware of how much money he made in 2011 and 2012 and earned only $10,000 in 2013.
To avoid the paying taxes, he used several tactics revolving around living on cash. DMX, 46, didn’t use a personal banking account, paying his bills instead through money deposited into the bank accounts of other people, where he deposited large sums from royalty income. The rapper also demanded cash payments for his performance—without tax withholdings—that went to his managers. In the courtroom, DMX admitted responsibility for not filing his taxes but also shifted the blame to those who managed his money at the height of his career, the news outlet said. Sentencing is tentatively scheduled for March 29.