Friday, November 27, 2009

Action heroes are lousy tax advisers

More tax trouble in Tinseltown this week. (That sounds like a line out of an old movie that I normally wouldn't admit liking as much as I do.) The Los Angeles Times and others are reporting that the IRS has filed a $79,000 tax lien against California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. He's disputing the claim and insists he's paid his taxes.

Lots of celebrities seem to get into tax jams, of course. Wesley Snipes, who allegedly didn't file returns for a few years, is in a big one. Willie Nelson used to be, though that apparently is behind him now. Olympic swimming gold medalist Michael Phelps was thought to be, though that turned out to be a case of mistaken identity. It isn't just Hollywood either. All kinds of literati anad glitterati have been making some dumb financial moves, reports ABC News. It is even an international phenomenon; celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey reportedly is in hot water with British tax authorities too.

Watching celebrities getting into financial jams has become something of a cottage industry. There is at least one blog devoted to the subject, by Cincinnati law professor Paul Caron. Austin, TX writer and tax geek Kay Bell watches too. Even Roni Deutch, the queen of late night TV tax service commercials keeps a list. Though in her line of work, she may be able to write some of that off.

So, if you are starting to pull year-end tax records together soon - and you should be - just remember: action heroes can be lousy tax advisers. Here's a short list of things IRS definitely recommends avoiding and 15 pages of why. The short answer is, they don't work.

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