Colombian pop singer Shakira could face up to eight years in prison in a casewhere Spanish prosecutors have accused her of tax fraud.
Shakira, whose full name is Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, is facing sixcharges alleging she failed to pay the Spanish government nearly $15 millionin taxes between 2012 and 2014. The prosecutors said they would also seek afine of $24.5 million.
The singer “trusts her innocence and chooses to leave the issue in the handsof the law,” her public relations firm Llorente y Cuenca said in a July 27statement.
Here’s everything to know about the pending tax fraud case:
Will Shakira go to trial for tax evasion?
A Spanish judge on Tuesday approved a trial after Shakira rejected asettlement deal offered by prosecutors. A trial date has not been set yet.
Prosecutors in Barcelona said on July 29, 2022 that they would seek a prisonsentence of more than eight years against global music superstar Shakira.
If she is convicted, prosecutors are asking the court to hand down a sentenceof eight years and a hefty fine.
A judge can waive prison time for first-time offenders if they are sentencedto less than two years behind bars.
Tax fraud case: Spanish prosecutors seek 8-year jail sentence for singerShakira
When was Shakira charged or tax fraud?
Prosecutors charged Shakira with tax evasion in December 2018, alleging shefailed to pay millions in taxes to the Spanish government between 2012 and2014.
Shakira listed the Bahamas as her official residence for tax purposes duringthose years, but prosecutors say she was in fact living in Spain with her now-ex partner, Spanish soccer player Gerard Piqué, father of her two children.
Shakira charged: Spanish court hits singer with multi-million dollar taxevasion suit in Spain
What has Shakira said about the tax fraud trial?
Shakira tested before a judge in 2019 as part of an investigation into heralleged tax evasion and denied any wrongdoing. Her PR firm said sheimmediately paid what she owed with interest once she was informed of the debtby the tax office.
The case hinges on where she lived during the years in question.
Previously: Shakira denies any wrongdoing in Spanish tax fraud case
The court denied her appeal in May and recommended trial.
Spanish Judge Marco Juberías wrote that his three-year probe found thereexisted “sufficient evidence of criminality” for the case to go to trial.
What is Shakira’s tax dispute about?
Experts think this case is about the meaning of the word “resident” underSpanish tax law.
It comes down to counting how many days in a year a person has lived in Spain– one day, 50 days, 365 days? – before being considered a “tax resident,” saysDouglas S. Stransky, a partner in Boston-based firm Sullivan & Worcester whopractices international tax law.
“Is one considered a resident of a country by buying a house in that countryeven if that person is only there for four days?” Stransky says. “I think inthis case it is true that Shakira did spend time in Spain, but the realquestion is whether she spent enough time there so as to be considered a taxresident of the country.”
How do other entertainers avoid international tax issues?
Tax lawyers help Shakira and other global performers figure out where they owetaxes based on their citizenship, where they live most of the time and wherethey perform in any given year, says international tax law expert **** KevinE. Thorn, managing partner of Thorn Law Group in Washington.
Thorn thinks Spanish authorities may not fully understand the complexinterplay between different countries’ laws and international treaties when itcomes to taxes.
“They’re rushing to judgment without all the facts and without understandingall the laws that could come into play here,” says Thorn, a former IRS lawyer.”They’re trying to pressure her to come to the table without all the factsbeing out there.”
Why is Spain threatening Shakira with prison?
So far, Spanish authorities have not presented any evidence publicly tosuggest Shakira committed a tax crime as opposed to a tax mistake.
Thorn says he believes prosecutors haven’t helped their case for a quicksettlement by publicly threatening Shakira with prison before a trial. “If amistake was made (about her taxes), her lawyers will fix it, but I’m not sureit’s a criminal matter,” Thorn says.
As in the US, Stransky says, most tax disputes in Spain are civil matters, notcriminal matters.
“Most of the time in cases like this, the government doesn’t go the criminalroute,” Stransky says. “My guess is that (Spanish authorities) are trying topressure her into settling the case by (deploying) the bad publicity and thethreat of jail.”
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Shakira ‘s tax fraud case goesto trial: Your questions answered