If Will Smith had paid his taxes, the world may have never had The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Smith said that his hit song “Parents Just Don’t Understand” with DJ Jazzy Jeff in 1988 made him financially successful, but he spent most of his money and didn’t pay his taxes in the process.
“Before I was getting in trouble with Uncle Phil, I was in trouble with Uncle Sam,” He recounts in the video. Smith said not paying his taxes led to the IRS repossessing his cars left him “broke, broke, broke.”
“In my mind I wasn’t trying to avoid paying taxes, I was like, ‘oh damn, they need their money,” Smith said. “Being famous and broke is a sh*tty combination, ’cause you still famous and people recognize you but they recognize you while you’re sitting next to them on the bus.”
He said his follow up album And in This Corner with DJ Jazzy Jeff was a commercial flop and a girlfriend at the time told him to hang out around The Arsenio Hall Show because it may increase his chances to find someone who can broker a deal for his mounting tax issues.
Listening to his girlfriend led him to meet with Quincy Jones, who was producing a show that would become The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
“So, the moral of the story is always say ‘yes,’” he said. “And, I guess, listen to your girlfriend.”
Check out Smith’s “Storytime” video below.
What's Your Reaction?
Teddy is a multimedia journalist who serves as the culture and political writer for EBONY. His work has appeared in NBC's Owned and Operated stations, as well as DNAInfo, which covered local neighborhood news in New York City. He received his Masters in Journalism from the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY in 2017.