In 1990 Willie Nelson was one of the most popular country singers of all time, but due to tax debts of over $16 million owed to the IRS he chose to file bankruptcy. But before filing bankruptcy, Willie Nelson suffered the indignity of IRS raids and asset seizures that left him in a serious financial pickle. The taxes owed were from tax returns filed in the 1970’s and 1980’s where the IRS disallowed several tax deductions designed to shelter most of the singer’s income. But if you think Willie Nelson allowed his tax debts or his very public bankruptcy filing to damper his spirits think again. When questioned about his bankruptcy and financial predicament, this is what Nelson had to say:
“I had a lot of things I owned, I needed to get rid of,” he said. “I had a lot of people around and needed to back off and stop supporting half the world so I could stop and look at my situation. It’s given me time to take inventory.”
And to those who lament his loss of money because of all the penalties and interest he must pay the IRS, Willie Nelson said:
“I’m not completely broke – I did a show in Hawaii and promoted it myself,” he said. “We didn’t make a lot of money, but I’ve got spending money ’till I can get out on the road again.”
Optimism and a good sense of humor helped him get through his financial troubles with the IRS; but it was smart thinking and the good advice of his bankruptcy attorney that helped him successfully exit bankruptcy in1993. Debtors facing financial troubles with powerful creditors such as the IRS would be wise to take Willie Nelson’s lead and remain optimistic; but also work with a professional bankruptcy attorney so that they too can get on the road to their fresh financial start.