The Department of Justice announced that a federal grand jury in Providence, Rhode Island, yesterday indicted Richard Hatch, the winner of the first CBS Survivor reality show, on charges of tax evasion and fraudulently using charitable donations for personal expenses. In a 10-count indictment, the grand jury alleges that Hatch failed to report about $1,037,000 income from Survivor and about $391,000 income from a half-dozen other sources. According to the DOJ press release, the indictment alleges:
Survivor Entertainment Group (SEG) paid Hatch $1,010,000 in August 2000 for appearing on the final episode of the initial “Survivor” series and for being declared the winner. In 2001, a Newport accounting firm prepared a 2000 tax return for Hatch that included Hatch’s Survivor income and concluded that he owed $441,501 in taxes. Hatch allegedly never filed that return.
In December 2001 Hatch hired a Middletown accountant to prepare another 2000 return for him. That return, which also reflected the Survivor income, concluded that Hatch owed $234,807 in taxes. Hatch allegedly never filed that return, either.
In the autumn of 2002, Hatch asked the Middletown accountant to prepare a 2000 return that did not reflect the Survivor income. The accountant did so but cautioned Hatch that the return, which called for a $4,483 refund, was for “informational” purposes only and was not to be filed. The indictment alleges that, contrary to the accountant’s warning, Hatch filed that “informational” return with the IRS.
For a copy of the indictment, see The Smoking Gun.
One wag has proposed a new reality show based on the Hatch case: Survivor: Tax Court. For other coverage, see:
For prior TaxProf Blog coverage of Hatch's tax woes, see here, here, and here.