5 Questionable Tax Tips From the Rich, Powerful and Famous

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- Celebrities usually separate themselves from the rest of society, often retreating behind gated mansions, hiding away in airport VIP lounges and sending their kids to private schools away from the riffraff.

But even the rich and powerful can't escape taxes -- which is not to say celebrities don't have different ways of handling their tax burden, the better to keep more of their wealth in their own satin-lined pockets.

Here are five examples from FinancesOnline.com of how celebrities and the wealthy look to cut corners with their taxes, and how "practicality" is a common trait among the privileged class, just as it is in the middle class:

How Lebron James caught up to Kobe Bryant
King James has two NBA titles in his back pocket as well as a big tax edge over future Hall-of-Famer Kobe Bryant: James lives in Florida, which has no state income tax. So while at first blush his annual salary of $19 million pales to Kobe's $30.5 million, the Laker legend lives in Los Angeles -- and thus is on the hook for a 12.3% state tax. By living in tax-free Florida, James' net income is closer to Kobe's than you think.

The French disconnection
Actor Gerard Depardieu decided not to stand his ground when France raised its tax rate on top earners to 75%. Instead he moved to Russia, which taxes only 13% of his income. Total savings for Depardieu? About $6.2 million annually.

Paid in cash? Then pay the piper
Famed photographer Annie Leibovitz, like a lot of self-employed people, opted to be paid in cash for her work. But the IRS caught on to the dodge and dinged Leibovitz to the tune of $1 million for four years' worth of unearned income. The snapshot here? Don't get paid in cash if you're self-employed.

Duck, dive and dodge
Troubled actress Lindsey Lohan decided to stop paying taxes altogether from 2009 to 2011. The IRS stuck her with a $100,000 bill for the missing money. But Lohan has friends in high places; bad boy actor Charlie Sheen stepped up and paid off the bill.

Missed it by that much
Billionaire businessman Sheldon Adelson was a big backer of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney last year. And why not? Romney's proposed tax plan would have saved Adelson $2 billion in cold, hard cash. But like Romney, Adelson's efforts fell short, and now he has to look elsewhere for a tax break (and good luck with that).

No, the rich and famous aren't like the rest of us -- that is, except for a strong desire to save money where they can on taxes.

And just like the rest of us, sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn't.

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