Ja Rule is an American rapper from Queens, NY. His song “Always on Time,” featuring Ashanti and released in 2001, was Ja Rule’s second Hot 100 number one single. Unfortunately for Ja Rule, he wasn’t on time with filing his tax returns from 2004 to 2008. In fact, he never filed his income tax returns for any of these years, and failed to pay any federal taxes on his $4 million in income earned over that time.
Earlier today, Ja Rule was sentenced in federal court to 28 months in prison for failure to file his tax returns. In court, Ja Rule attempted to explain to the judge what had happened:
“I was a young man who made a lot of money…. I didn’t actually know how to deal with these finances … [and] I didn’t have the best people guide me, so I made mistakes.”
We’ve heard this kind of story countless times. I’m not saying I don’t believe him. It just pains me to see time and time again people who are too young to suddenly become millionaires. When in the large spotlight for the first time, the immature naturally put little to no thought towards properly addressing financial matters.
Ja Rule was already 28 years old when his tax problems began. Perhaps he doesn’t neatly fit the type of person I describe above. Nevertheless, you’d think preventative measures are readily available that can steer the young and naïve in the right direction. As we’ll continue to see young people earning a fortune early in life, I believe the primary problem here may be the lack of overall effort towards connecting the vulnerable with a competent adviser long before mistakes are made. Ascertaining what it takes to overcome that problem, unfortunately, is likely a problem onto itself.