Many people believe that television and movie stars live on virtually unlimited incomes. Unfortunately, for some of those entertainers, they act as if that were a true statement, and sometimes run into problems from the taxman.

The latest case involves Melissa Gilbert, the star of “Little House on the Prairie,” and the news that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has filed a federal tax lien against her assets for $360,000 unpaid tax obligations. The tax debt dates to the 2011-2013 period of her life, and owes as much to other factor beyond a frivolous life style. She was divorced during this time and appeared on the television program “Dancing with the Stars,” which played a role in her difficulties.

Gilbert notes that she suffered a “perfect storm” with a lack of acting jobs, the poor economy and her divorce as contributing to her tax debt crisis. Gilbert, like many people, experienced the results of the financial crisis and the severe downturn in the economy, which led to many individuals experiencing their own personal financial crisis.

Any individual with a non-salaried income could potentially face this type of scenario, when external factors cause an unexpected or unplanned for loss of cash flow. This leads to problems with paying all bills, including tax bills.

For entertainers, who may make very substantial sums when employed on a successful series or movie, but then may have a fallow period with little income, managing tax burdens can be very complex. With a divorce complicating matters, it can be difficult to make certain all taxes in all jurisdictions are accurately paid.

Tax liens are serious matters and Gilbert has entered into an installment payment plan with the IRS. While tax liens are a serious problem, the IRS is generally willing to accept an installment payments or an Offer in Compromise, to resolve outstanding tax debt and remove a tax lien.

Source:, “Big debt on the prairie: Melissa Gilbert owes IRS $360K,” Robert Snell, June 11, 2015