Celebrities Are Not Exempt From Tax Evasion Scandals: The Latest in Shakira’s Case in Barcelona
Showing that no high-net-worth individual is above suffering from a tax evasion scandal, Shakira recently attended court in Barcelona regarding a tax fraud case. The public prosecutor accuses Shakira of defrauding the country of €14.5 million via what he called a “web of companies.”
The Alleged Tax Fraud
At the time of the court date, Shakira was facing six fraud accusations. The public prosecutor alleged that from 2012 and 2014, Shakira lived in Barcelona and was part of a stable relationship with Gerard Pique, the famous FC Barcelona soccer player. Assuming this is the case, Shakira should have filed Spanish tax returns as she was living there. The public prosecutor backs up his case with evidence like invoices.
The public prosecutor further alleges that Shakira and her team developed a group of companies to form a web that makes it harder or impossible for the Spanish Tax Agency to notice her income. To qualify as a tax resident in Spain, someone must spend a year and a day in the country. The prosecutor admits they do not have enough documentation to prove this was the case for Shakira in any of the three years in question, although they have proof for 140 days in the country in 2014. Instead, the Tax Agency considers her a tax resident since Shakira was only out of the country “sporadically” for work.
Shakira’s court appearance was on June 6, at which time she delivered statements that were clearly planned ahead of time and well-measured. This is no surprise as the Colombian singer has a full team of lawyers, consultants, and PR experts behind her.
According to Shakira, she was not living in Barcelona during the period in question. Instead, the singer claims she was a resident of the Bahamas. This residency would have saved her a significant amount on taxes due to the low tax rates in the Bahamas. The prosecutor, however, says that Shakira only pretended to be a resident in the Bahamas as a way to avoid taxes.
Specifics of Shakira’s Side
Shakira only answered the questions that her lawyer presented her with during her court appearance. According to her statements, Shakira only visited Barcelona sporadically during that time, with more frequent visits coming later when Pique and she became more serious.
Shakira also used her professional commitments as evidence that she did not live in Spain. Her involvement in the American version of the television show “The Voice” was one of these examples as she spent considerable time in the United States filming it. Shakira indicated that close to the end of 2014, she started seriously considering becoming a Spanish resident. It was also at this time that she started her son in a school in Spain.
Shakira further indicated that she saw no reason for the entire situation to occur. According to her, she had already repaid the necessary amounts to Spain’s Tax Agency. She further said that her consultants are in charge of the matter and they are the best, so they know what they are doing.
Far From the Only Celeb to Face Tax Fraud Scandals
Over the years, Spain has accused numerous other celebrities of tax fraud via tax avoidance. Most people remember when Cristiano Ronaldo faced accusations within the last few years after playing for Real Madrid. Leo Messi and Rafa Nadal faced similar accusations in the past. The Spanish Tax Agency has also accused Ana Torroja (the 1980s pop star), Sergi Arola (a celebrity chef), and Montserrat Caballe (an opera singer). The results of those cases vary, but celebrities frequently end up paying at least some of the alleged amount due to get the Tax Agency to drop their case.
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