NEWSBREAK: Lauryn Hill was sentenced today to three months in prison and three months of home confinement with electronic monitoring for not reporting more than $2.3 million in income by intentionally failing to file tax returns for five years.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Madeline Cox Arleo two weeks ago set a deadline for today for Hill to come up with $514,000 that she still owed the government. Her attorney, Nathan Hochman, said she paid her debt, along with fines, interest and restitution totaling nearly $970,000.
However, the government put her tax liability at more than $1 million.
The 37-year-old Grammy winner — who on Friday released a new single, “Neurotic Society (Compulsory Mix)” — had paid roughly $50,000 when Arleo set the deadline two weeks ago.
Hilll told Arleo she always intended to make good pay couldn’t during a stretch when she dropped out of the music business.
“I needed to be able to earn so I could pay my taxes, without compromising the health and welfare of my children, and I was being denied that,” she said.
It echoed a previous post she’d made to her fans:
“I did whatever needed to be done in order to insulate my family from the climate of hostility, false entitlement, manipulation, racial prejudice, sexism and ageism that I was surrounded by…. There were no exotic trips, no fleet of cars, just an all out war for safety, integrity, wholeness and health, without mistreatment, denial, and/or exploitation.”
The former Fugees singer, who was sued for eviction earlier this year by the owner of the South Orange mansion where she lives with her mother and childen, accepted a plea bargain and admitted evading taxes last June in U.S. District Court in Newark.
Although the conviction technically carries from 30 to 36 months in federal prison, Hill needed only pay up — including interest, penalties and court costs — by the end of last November.
When that didn’t happen, Arleo set the new deadline and asked for additional documentation about Hill’s finances.
Preparing for today’s proceeding she released a new single — her first in three years.
“Here is a link to a piece that I was ‘required’ to release immediately, by virtue of the impending legal deadline,” Hill wrote in a post about her new song. “I love being able to reach people directly, but in an ideal scenario, I would not have to rush the release of new music . . . but the message is still there.”
She added that she’d signed a recording contract with Sony that she believes will produce the income she needs to square her accounts.
Neurotic Society (Compulsory Mix):
Hill first came to audience’s attention with the Fugees. Then, in 1998, she released the blockbuster solo album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” which earned five Grammy Awards, including the prestigious Album of the Year and Best New Artist.
But she turned away from public performing. After four years out of the spotlight, she did an MTV “Unplugged” gig that produced the live album “No. 2.0.”
Hill has done soundtrack recordings and mixtapes, while performing here and there at festivals, in recent years. “Neurotic Society (Compulsory Mix)” was her first single in three years.
Hill’s net worth has been reported at more than $8.7 million from her record sales, tours and investments in Jamaica. Her primary source of income, federal prosecutors in Newark said, are royalties from the recording and film industries.
U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman credited special agents with IRS-Criminal Investigation with the work leading to the charges. The case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra L. Moser of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.