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Originally published April 26, 2013

Record Deal, Loans May Help Lauryn Hill Avoid Prison Over Taxes

by Krishana Davis
AFRO Staff Writers

  •   Click on the photo to view additional Photos.
    Singer Lauryn Hill walks from federal court in Newark, N.J., Monday, April 22, 2013, after a judge postponed her tax evasion sentencing and scolded the eight-time Grammy winner for reneging on a promise to make restitution. Hill pleaded guilty last year to not paying federal taxes on $1.8 million earned from 2005 to 2007. At that time, her attorney said she would pay more than $500,000 by the time of her sentencing. It was revealed Monday in court that Hill has paid $50,000. The South Orange resident got her start with The Fugees and began her solo career in 1998 with the acclaimed album "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill." (AP Photo/Mel Evans)


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Grammy-award winning singer Lauryn Hill is battling to stay out of jail over unpaid taxes.

Aside from occasional concert appearances, she has been absent from the music scene for several years. She has not released an album since 2002.

Her most publicized recent public presence was in a federal court appearance in 2012 when she pleaded guilty to failing to pay taxes from 2005 to 2007 on $1.8 million in earnings. Her tax liability, including interest, penalties and unpaid state taxes, is estimated at $968,000.

The 37-year-old R&B star agreed to clear a $554,000 federal tax liability by May 6, when she is scheduled to be sentenced. She faces up to three years in prison. Hill reportedly made a payment of $50,000 in late 2012, but has less than two weeks to come up with the remaining $504,000.

The singer is planning to borrow against the value of two real estate properties to settle her federal tax bill before the court date, according to Nathan Hochman, her attorney. In addition, she recently signed a $1 million recording contract with Sony.

But reliance on a recording contract to settle the tax liability was criticized by U.S. Magistrate Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in Newark who said that the singer has “substantial assets.”

"This is not someone who stands before the court penniless," Arleo said to Hill's attorney, Nathan Hochman according to CBSNews.com. "This is a criminal matter. Actions speak louder than words, and there has been no effort here to pay these taxes."

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