Shakira’s Tax Evasion Battle — What Just Happened?

Shakira tax evasion
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Shakira tax evasion
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Photo Credit: Jorge Fernández Salas

Colombian superstar Shakira is best known for hits like “Hips Don’t Lie,” and “Whenever, Wherever.” But the pop star has spent a lot of time in the headlines embroiled in a high-profile tax evasion lawsuit in Spain. Here’s a timeline of events leading up to Shakira’s settlement.

Latin singer Shakira has been facing multiple charges of alleged tax evasion by Spanish prosecutors, while the country’s tax authorities claim she owes millions in unpaid taxes from 2012 to 2014. The Colombian star has disputed these claims, alleging that she spent less than 60 days during that time in Spain, and that her official residence was in the Bahamas.

The pop star, whose legal name is Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, has repeatedly denied the allegations; if found guilty, she could face eight years in prison and pay a hefty fine. Her trial began on November 20, 2023. Below is a timeline of events surrounding Shakira’s tax evasion lawsuit in Spain.

December 2018 — Spain files tax evasion charges against Shakira to the tune of $15.4 million for unpaid taxes between 2012 and 2014, during which the artist claimed her official residence was in the Bahamas. Spanish tax authorities claim that she primarily lived in Spain during that time with then-boyfriend, footballer Gerard Piqué, only traveling abroad for short periods due to “professional commitments.”

Shakira and her PR firm have claimed that she already paid off all the tax money she owed the Spanish government from that time, plus additional interest, before the lawsuit was filed against her. She denied any wrongdoing while testifying during a court hearing in June 2019.

Prosecutors threaten to seize $21.9 million in assets to pay the taxes owed plus 33% as per Spanish law.

July 2021 — Spanish judges find “sufficient evidence” against Shakira to move forward with a trial, citing that she “stopped paying taxes in Spain” during the years in question despite “a duty to do so” as it was her “tax residence.”

May 2022 — A Barcelona court dismissed an appeal by Shakira, doubling down on there being sufficient evidence for her to stand trial.

July 2022 — Shakira rejects a plea deal, believing enough evidence for her legal team to prove her innocence. The terms of that settlement offer were not made public.

September 2022 — Shakira is ordered to stand trial in Spain on six charges related to tax fraud. She reiterates her innocence in an interview with Elle and criticizes the Spanish courts for their handling of tax cases, which, as they pertain to celebrities, are often made public to “make an example” of them.

July 2023 — Shakira is the subject of a second tax fraud investigation in Spain stemming from allegations that she failed to claim profits from an advance payment for her El Dorado World Tour, and instead kept the money in offshore companies as “tax havens.”

September 2023 — Following the second investigation, Shakira faces an additional $7.1 million in unpaid taxes from 2018.

November 2023 — Eight minutes into the first day of the trial for the initial six charges, Shakira told the judge she had reached an agreement with prosecutors to settle tax evasion charges. Deciding that going through with the trial will be more trouble than it’s worth, Shakira cites choosing to put her kids and her “personal well-being” first.

“I have made the decision to finally resolve this matter with the best interest of my kids at heart, who do not want to see their mom sacrifice her personal well-being in this fight,” Shakira said in a statement released by her PR firm.

“Her legal team prepared the trial and were convinced we could demonstrate her innocence, but the circumstances changed and she opted to accept the deal,” added Shakira’s defense team.

Terms of the agreement will see the singer receive a suspended three-year sentence, pay an $8 million fine, as well as paying all previously unpaid taxes and interest. She is also now on record as being found guilty of tax fraud, which could affect her other pending tax case. While she rejected a plea deal in 2022, details of that offer were not made public, so it’s unknown if the settlement was the same.