Willie Nelson Fans Saved Him When IRS Tried To Take Everything

Willie Nelson / YouTube
News, Willie Nelson
Shawn Lealos

The IRS tried to take everything away from Willie Nelson. The country music icon apparently owed a large sum of money in taxes. With that in mind, the IRS came in and seized all his property to sell off so they could get the money he owed them.

However, Willie’s fans came to the rescue and ensured that the IRS got what they wanted and Willie didn’t lose anything. Here is how it all went down.

Willie Nelson owed the IRS millions

In the early 1990s, Willie Nelson ran afoul of the IRS. According to the IRS, Willie owed them $16.7 million in unpaid tax bills. The organization claimed that he hid money in tax shelters that his accountant had set up for him and that total was for $6 million. The IRS then added on an additional $10 million between penalties and unpaid taxes stretching back into the 1970s.

Willie Nelson / YouTube

According to Willie, he tried to challenge the tax bill, but the IRS would not budge and wanted the entire $16.7 million (via Rolling Stone). This resulted in the IRS showing up at Willie Nelson’s home and they began to take his belongings to auction off to pay off the tax debt. The IRS seized his property in six different states, and this included his houses and land, as well as his master tapes of his music, his recording and touring equipment, his gold records, and even his clothing.

Willie Nelson did save his prized guitar Trigger. He gave it to his daughter when he realized the IRS was gunning for him. She took the guitar and hid it. Everything that the IRS took went up for auction – and that is when Willie’s fans stepped up.

Willie Nelson fans saved his seized belongings

The IRS started by auctioning off Willie Nelson’s ranch in San Marcos, Texas. He bought it from the doctor who delivered him as a baby. No one would bid on it. Finally, after two auctions and no bidders, a lobbying group that Willie previously helped during Farm Aid purchased it for $203,840 – and they then sold it back to Willie.

The Pedernales Country Club, which housed Willie’s recording studio also went up for auction. This was where he recorded Pancho & Lefty with Merle Haggard. Darrell Royal, the former Texas Longhorns football coach, bought it. When the IRS realized Royal bought it to keep it safe for Willie, they canceled the sale and found another buyer. This time, it was Freddy Fletcher – Willie’s nephew. They finally relented.

Willie Nelson / YouTube

The auction for Willie Nelson’s gold and platinum records, instruments, posters, and other personal items ended up with a selling price of only $7,000. The Willie Nelson and Friends Showcase was the winning bidders. The IRS finally gave up and decided to negotiate with Willie again, who paid $9 million.

The IRS even agreed to let him record an album called The IRSTapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories? double album. They even helped promote it and proceeds from the album went to help raise $4 million to help pay the $9 million. Willie also sued his accountant for getting him in trouble in the first place and used that settlement to help pay the IRS.

What are your thoughts on the Willie Nelson saga with the IRS? Let us know what you think about all this in the comments below.

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