Only the little people pay taxes

The widow and heir of New York real estate tycoon Harry Helmsley and one of the richest women in the United States, Leona Helmsley notoriously declared, “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.” She became infamous in the early 1990s for being convicted of income tax evasion and sentenced to 18 months in prison.


In 1983, Harry and Leona Helmsley bought the weekend retreat of their dreams, and enormous house costing $11 million. Although this 21-room estate was gorgeous, the Helmsleys decided to do a lot of remodeling. After years of renovation and redecoration, the cost amounted to $8 million. The amount is so outrageous that they were unwilling to pay. But the Helmsleys took an illegal route.

When a group of contractors tried to collect the money owed to them for their hard labour during the years. The Helmsleys refused to pay. Angered and frustrated, many of the contractors decided to wage a campaign against the Helmsleys. They knew much of the work done for the mansion was billed to the Helmsleys’ business. Although it was not uncommon to inflate the business expenses in order to evade taxes, it is highly illegal. The contractors mailed a pile of invoices to the New York Post. An article was soon released how the renovation work were being written of as business expenses. It wasn’t long before the government initiated an investigation into the Helmsleys’ illegal business practices.

The Helmsleys were found guilty of charging $4 millions personal expenses to their business to evade over $1 million personal income taxes. It took three years, but eventually the Helmsleys’ were indicted.

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