Earl Simmons, a recording artist, performer, and actor known professionally as “DMX,” surrendered today for engaging in a multi-year scheme to conceal millions of dollars of income from the IRS and to avoid paying $1.7 million of tax liabilities.
According to the allegations in the Indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:
Simmons worked as a recording artist, performer, and actor. Beginning in 1997, Simmons released a series of hip-hop albums that sold millions of records. Many of his albums went platinum and occupied the top positions on musical charts. During his career, Simmons has performed at venues across the United States and around the world, and has acted in motion pictures.
As a result of the income Simmons earned from sources including musical recordings and performances, from 2002 through 2005 he incurred federal income tax liabilities of approximately $1.7 million. Those liabilities went unpaid, and in 2005, the IRS began efforts to collect Simmons’ unpaid tax liabilities.
During the period from 2010 through 2015, Simmons earned over $2.3 million, but Simmons did not file personal income tax returns during that time period. Instead, he orchestrated a scheme to evade payment of his outstanding tax liabilities, largely by maintaining a cash lifestyle, avoiding the use of a personal bank account, and using the bank accounts of nominees, including his business managers, to pay personal expenses. For example, Simmons received hundreds of thousands of dollars of royalty income from his music recordings.
Simmons caused that income to be deposited into the bank accounts of his managers, who then disbursed it to him in cash or used it to pay his personal expenses. Simmons also participated in the “Celebrity Couples Therapy” television show in 2011 and 2012 and was paid $125,000 for his participation. When taxes were withheld from the check for the first installment of that fee by the producer, Simmons refused to tape the remainder of the television show until the check was reissued without withholding taxes.
Simmons took other steps to conceal his income from the IRS and others, including by filing a false affidavit in U.S. Bankruptcy Court that listed his income as “unknown” for 2011 and 2012, and as $10,000 for 2013. In fact, Simmons received hundreds of thousands of dollars of income in each of those years.
Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “For years, Earl Simmons, the recording artist and performer known as DMX, made millions from his chart-topping songs, concert performances and television shows. But while raking in millions from his songs, including his 2003 hit ‘X Gon’ Give it to Ya,’ DMX didn’t give any of it to the IRS. Far from it, DMX allegedly went out of his way to evade taxes, including by avoiding personal bank accounts, setting up accounts in other’s names and paying personal expenses largely in cash. He even allegedly refused to tape the television show ‘Celebrity Couples Therapy’ until a properly issued check he was issued was reissued without withholding any taxes. Celebrity rapper or not, all Americans must pay their taxes, and together with our partners at the IRS, we will pursue those who deliberately and criminally evade this basic obligation of citizenship.”
IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge James D. Robnett said: “While most individuals file truthful tax returns and pay their taxes, the indictment against Mr. Simmons alleges various tax crimes, including that he failed to file personal tax returns for several years and did not pay his fair share of taxes. IRS-Criminal Investigation will continue to focus our investigative efforts on those who try to conceal their income in order to evade their taxes.”
Simmons, 46, of Yonkers, New York, is charged in 14 counts: one count of corruptly endeavoring to obstruct and impede the due administration of Internal Revenue Laws, one count of evasion of payment of income taxes, six counts of evasion of assessment of income tax liability, and six counts of failure to file a U.S. individual income tax return. Count One carries a maximum sentence of three years. Counts Two through Eight each carry a maximum sentence of five years. Counts Nine through Fourteen each carry a maximum sentence of one year. The statutory maximum sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant would be determined by the judge.