Will Smith: I Once Borrowed Money From Drug Dealer to Pay Off Tax Debt Actor, musician Will Smith (AP)
By Zoe Papadakis | Monday, 22 November 2021 01:15 PM
Will Smith revealed he once borrowed $10,000 from a friend who was a drug dealer to pay off tax debt in the early 1990s.
The actor made the confession while chatting with Idris Elba about his financial problems during an appearance at the Savoy Theatre in London on Thursday to promote his autobiography.
"I'm not sure what the government is like with taxes in the U.K., but in the U.S. they take it seriously," Smith said in a video clip that was made available by Metro.
"So Uncle Sam wanted his money," he continued, adding: "I didn't forget — I just didn't pay."
Smith explained he had no other choice than to borrow the money from a friend who was "a purveyor of neighborhood pharmaceuticals" and move to Los Angeles. He almost declared bankruptcy but managed to land the lead role on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air."
According to "Will Smith Book: The Biography of Will Smith," the IRS collected 70% of his salary over the first three seasons of the show.
The tax debt came from the money Smith made with the 1988 hit "Parents Just Don't Understand" with DJ Lazzy, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. He blew most of the money and neglected to pay his taxes.
"Being famous and broke is a s**t combination, 'cause you still famous and people recognize you, but they recognize you while you're sitting next to them on the bus," Smith admitted while opening up about his tax debt in 2018 on his popular YouTube channel. The IRS repossessed items like cars and motorcycles, leaving him "broke, broke, broke."
It was Smith's girlfriend who convinced him to hand around the Paramount Studio lot to try and get a deal to help him with his tax problem. It was here he met producer Quincy Jones, who invited Smith to audition for "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" and the rest is history.