May 7, 2013

Grammy award-winning hip-hop singer Lauryn Hill was sentenced on Monday to 3 months in federal prison for failing to pay about $1 million in taxes.

Last year, the 37-year-old New Jersey resident pleaded guilty for failing to pay taxes between 2005 and 2007, on income totaling $1.8 million. Yesterday’s sentence takes into account 2008 and 2009, years she also failed to pay federal and state taxes.

Hill claimed that she had always meant to pay taxes on the income, but couldn’t afford to at the time. “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 began her career with the Fugees in the early 1990s alongside well-known artist Wyclef Jean. She went solo in 1998 with The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, an 8x platinum record, before an indefinite hiatus from the music industry.

Even though she’d been inactive musically while raising her six children, Hill earned more than $2.3 million from 2005 to 2009. She operates four companies, and had been preparing for a comeback with her studio album, The Return, which is due for release later this year.

“I love being able to reach people directly, but in an ideal scenario, I would not have to rush the release of new music,” said Hill after being forced to share a link to her first new song in almost a decade. Her comeback was rushed due to her legal situation, and Hill signed a record deal last month with Sony Worldwide Entertainment to assist in paying off her tax bills.

Despite recently paying more than $970,000 in back taxes and penalties, the singer was still sentenced to serve 3 months in federal prison. Following jail time, she’ll have 3 months of house arrest and nearly a year of supervised release. Additionally, Hill must pay a $60,000 fine to the IRS.