NYT Elvis Mitchell IRS scandal

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Tue, Sep 29, 2009 at 1:23 PM

Uh, oh, the often-impossible-to-read film critic Elvis Mitchell, formerly of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, L.A. Weekly, New Times L.A., Detroit Free Press, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and, somehow, The New York Times, is facing a huge bill from the IRS, of close to $500,000.

According to the Detroit News, Mitchell told an improbable tale to U.S. border guards last year, who stopped him at the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel and found a pile of $12,000 in cash hidden inside a cigar box. Mitchell, who tends to stumble around in his reviews, said it was all very innocent and that he's just afraid of banks.

 A lot of money is involved in the embarrassing case against him:

The IRS in 2007 filed three liens against him of $91,968, $277,015 and $136,130.  So that means Mitchell was already on warning from the feds, big-time, long before he started sneaking around the U.S.-Canadian border with boxes of cash.

Does he really make that kind of money -- enough to owe a half million bucks -- from his gig hosting the cable show "Under the Influence" on Turner Classic Movies?

This case seems likely to involve a lot of other kinds of unreported income, but how much can a guy really make off the occasional book, his hosting gig, and podcasts for KCRW?

Maybe he can use a defense inadvertently offered a few years ago by Deadline Hollywood's Nikki Finke, one of our regular columnists here at the Weekly. She said something about Mitchell that's become his rep, dismissing him as a superflake.

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