Records show reality TV star Todd Chrisley may have evaded state income taxes

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
On his television show, "Chrisley Knows Best," reality star Todd Chrisley flaunts his lavish lifestyle, but did that lifestyle come at the expense of Georgia taxpayers?

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

On his television show, "Chrisley Knows Best," reality star Todd Chrisley flaunts his lavish lifestyle. But did that lifestyle come at the expense of Georgia taxpayers?

Records show the star of the USA Network show declared himself a legal Georgia resident on numerous court filings, but several sources tell WSB-TV that Chrisley filed no state income tax returns during those years.

WSB asked bankruptcy trustee Jason Pettie, who oversaw one of Chrisley's filings, about seeing tax returns in which Chrisley claimed to be a Florida resident. Pettie indicated he had seen federal tax returns from 2004 through 2011.

When asked whether he'd seen Georgia tax returns, Pettie said, "No. They haven't been filed."

The Chrisley family's reality show started in 2014, while the bankruptcy proceeding was still ongoing.

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Pettie was floored after watching the Chrisleys flaunt high-end clothing, luxury cars and a 20,000-square-foot Roswell mansion on the show.

"That didn't sit well at all," said Pettie. "I realized there was a lot of debt propping up the appearance on TV."

"I thought it was like bizarro world." said attorney Kevin Ward, who represented one of Chrisley's creditors. "Granted, the show is not under oath, but the person I had under oath was just the opposite. He claimed to be destitute, incapable of paying anything."

Ward also said he quickly spotted another flaw with the bankruptcy. Todd Chrisley filed it in Florida, using a Florida address.

"We immediately attacked the residency issue," Ward said.

In a sworn deposition, Ward got Chrisley to admit he really lived in the house in Roswell, Georgia, even accusing him of fraudulently listing the Florida address.

The Chrisleys eventually agreed to move the bankruptcy case to Georgia on their own. The judge's order noted that the move should not be seen as an admission of the allegations.

"His kids went to school in Georgia. His wife, his business, everything was here in Georgia," Ward said.

WSB-TV uncovered multiple lawsuits Chrisley filed in which he declared himself a legal Georgia resident. In 2010, he was "domiciled in Georgia." In 2011, he was "a resident and citizen of Georgia." In 2012, he "resided in Fulton County."

And just as in that bankruptcy filing, Chrisley told the Internal Revenue Service he lived in Florida, too.

But multiple sources confirmed to WSB that Chrisley did not file Georgia state income taxes for any of the eight years they saw his returns.

"I think that's something the Georgia Department of Revenue may be interested in," said Pettie.

WSB asked the Georgia Department of Revenue about the Chrisleys' failure to pay years of state income taxes, but Commissioner Lynne Riley declined to comment, citing confidentiality laws protecting specific taxpayer information.

Riley did say her agency regularly receives information about taxpayers and reviews it accordingly.

Records show the Chrisleys even held a homestead exemption on the Roswell house from 2006 through 2014, which retired IRS tax fraud investigator Jack Fishman calls the best piece of evidence.

"On a homestead exemption, I swear under oath I reside at this location. This is my home," Fishman said.

He said that Georgia's Department of Revenue has access to those documents, and an obligation to send a bill if tax evasion is uncovered.

"It means that you're a citizen of the state of Georgia and have to file a Georgia income tax return. It's that simple," Fishman said.

When asked about an argument from Chrisley's attorneys that there's some secret way he's been able to claim he's a Florida resident all these years, Fishman replied, "I started with the IRS in December of '71. I currently do tax controversy law. I've yet to see that 'secret way' you're talking about."

Chrisley's wife, Julie, didn't seem confused in an August 2013 videotaped deposition. Under oath, she definitively answered attorneys' questions, saying neither she nor her husband lived in Florida.

In 2016, the Chrisley family moved to Nashville, Tennessee, which also requires no state income taxes.

After contacting three of Chrisley's attorneys and his agent, WSB traveled to his new home to try to ask him about his missing Georgia tax returns from the years prior.

When Chrisley was approached outside his home, he at first pulled up as if he was going to grant an interview, but then abruptly drove away instead.

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