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January 18, 2005 - Phil Hodgen

Richard Hatch, Survivor Champ and Tax Evader

Richard Hatch was the winner of the first Survivor show, nabbing the $1 million prize. Now apparently he’s going to plead guilty to tax evasion.

Here’s a Reuters story and for those of you who need to know more, the actual court filings from The Smoking Gun (if you like your sources on the scurrilous side) or here (for the duller, pedestrian type of news source).

Yes, he’s the one who pranced around naked. It appears that persistent nudity causes brain damage.

Here’s why. Mr. Hatch made $1,010,000 for his stint on Survivor. The production company wrote him a check, and issued Form 1099-MISC to him. That means the IRS had Mr. Hatch’s social security matched to the fact that he made $1,010,000 in 2000. He didn’t report the income.

D’oh! The IRS has a little computer that compared Column A (“I paid Richard Hatch $1,010,000”) with Column B (“I, Richard Hatch, didn’t make any money in 2000”) and that little computer burped. And now Mr. Hatch will likely spend some time in the pokey.

Mr. Hatch also failed to report some $321,000 he made while working for a radio station. A bit more complex here (he piped the money through a corporation) but the same result: not a hint of this money on his tax return.

It all brings to mind the old Steve Martin joke about how to get $1,000,000 and not pay taxes. Not that anyone would actually DO that, would they? Naaah.

TINLAB (This Is Not Legal Advice But. . . .) you’d be a damned fool to be naked on TV and then lie on your tax returns.

UPDATE: apparently he’s got a plea bargain to plead guilty in return for a lesser sentence than the maximum 5 years/$250,000 fine per violation. Here’s a CBS News report that contains the details.

UPDATE (4 March 05): He’s backing out of his plea bargain.

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