*When we reported Monday morning that Lauryn Hill paid off the balance of her back taxes prior to her court appearance, we thought she was going to beat the rap. Boy were we wrong, unfortunately.
On Monday, the 37-year-old Grammy-winning singer was sentenced to three months in prison and an additional three months in home confinement for failing to pay taxes on about $1 million in earnings.
To no avail, Hill explained to the judge that she had always meant to eventually pay the taxes but was unable to during a period of time when she dropped out of the music business. It was basically the same defense she wrote in a lengthy online post last year.
“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,” Hill said Monday, without explaining what exactly triggered her actions.
Hill – a 37-year-old South Orange, New Jersey resident – pleaded guilty last year in the case.
Before the sentencing, her attorney had said Hill had paid more than $970,000 to satisfy the state and federal tax liabilities.
Hill had faced a maximum sentence of one year each on three counts. Her attorney had sought probation.
As of this posting, it’s not clear when or where she’d report to prison.
Hill, who got her start with The Fugees, began her solo career in 1998 with the critically acclaimed and multi-platinum selling album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” She then largely disappeared from public view to raise her six children.
At the time of her arrest last year, Lauryn Hill wrote an online essay rejecting pop culture’s “climate of hostility, false entitlement, manipulation, racial prejudice, sexism and ageism.”
“Over-commercialization and its resulting restrictions and limitations can be very damaging and distorting to the inherent nature of the individual,” she wrote. “I did not deliberately abandon my fans, nor did I deliberately abandon any responsibilities, but I did however put my safety, health and freedom and the freedom, safety and health of my family first over all other material concerns! I also embraced my right to resist a system intentionally opposing my right to whole and integral survival.”
Hill also said she hadn’t paid taxes since she withdrew from society to guarantee her family’s safety but that she always intended to rectify the situation.