From Al Capone to Martha Stewart, many a famous names have got themselves into trouble with the tax authorities over the years. It seems sometimes that tax evasion is almost a second career for some celebrities, many of whom have been caught, shamed and even imprisoned over the years. With today's tough economic circumstances turning the spotlight on those who fail to pay their way, the past year hasn't been a good one for tax evaders. Here are five infamous cases from 2011:
1) The Osbournes
It was reported back in spring 2011 that this celebrity family had got themselves into a spot of bother with the US tax authorities. First, it emerged that daughter Kelly Osbourne owed the state of California over $30,000 in back taxes. The following week her parents Ozzy and Sharon were in the media, owing a much more substantial sum than their daughter. The US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had placed a lien, or security, on their home, saying the pair owed them a total of $1.7m in missing taxes.
2) Douglas Bruce
You may not have heard of him (and he's certainly not as famous as the Osbournes!), but Douglas Bruce's tax evasion case deserves a mention because of his history of anti-tax campaigning. Bruce is a Colorado politician who has long been despised by those who disagreed with his extreme 'small government' stance. He brought Colorado's infamous 'Taxpayer Bill of Rights' into law during the 1990s, until it was suspended in 2005 due to a severe decline in the state's public services. Bruce's enemies may not be surprised to learn that he has personally helped contribute further to that decline with four counts of tax evasion, for which he was arrested in May 2011
3) Ja Rule
The well known American singer got into trouble with the law for tax evasion in 2011, although he was already well on the wrong side of it. On top of his 2 year sentence for a weapons charge, given in June, he was sentenced in July to 28 months for tax evasion. He owed the IRS a total of $1.1m.
4) The Julius Baer Cases
Swiss bank Julius Baer has, according to former employee Rudolf Elmer, been operating for many years as a 'safe haven' for wealthy tax evaders. Elmer worked for the bank for 20 years before retiring in 2002. In January, Elmer handed documents to the authorities that he said contained details of the tax evasion. Julius Baer refuted his claims, but the IRS arrested two of their advisers in October for conspiring in $600 bn worth of tax evasion.
5) Ai Weiwei
The Chinese artist, who created an installation in London's Tate Modern gallery in 2010, was hit with tax evasion charges in 2011. In April, he was detained by the Chinese authorities for 81 days. His supporters managed to raise enough to pay an £820,000 bond to have him released so that he could appeal. Weiwei is one of the Chinese government's most notorious critics.