Bruce Springsteen once told his audience that it matters not “which side of the 99 percent you’re on but on which side of history you’re on.” But the one percenter confessed to Tom Hanks this weekend that he long stood on the wrong side of the IRS.
“First of all, I never met anyone in New Jersey who paid any taxes,” the Boss told the Bosom Buddy at the Tribeca Film Festival in Manhattan. “We never paid any taxes.”
After Springsteen’s third album Born to Run simultaneously landed him on the cover of Time and Newsweek, the taxman took an interest in him, too. “They came after us,” he explained, “and I had to work for a couple years for somebody else every night.”
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’s early aversion to the IRS preceded activism later in his career in which he sang in support of politicians seeking to raise taxes on Joe Roberts who works for the state out of barracks #8, the guy who got Mary pregnant down by the river, and Eddie who lent a few bucks to his friend to go to a meeting on the other side of the tunnel (not to mention Weak-Kneed Willie, Big-Bones Billy, Rosalita, Go-Kart Mozart, and Curly Wurly).
The leader of the E Street Band played two dates on 2004’s “Vote for Change” tour and performed a surprise serenade for Obama administration staffers on their last night in the White House. Springsteen displayed a “F— Trump” Constitution last year in Pittsburgh and in Perth praised the participants in January’s women’s march against Donald Trump as rallying “against hate and division and in support of tolerance, inclusion, reproductive rights, civil rights, racial justice, LGBTQ rights, the environment, wage equality, gender equality, healthcare, and immigrant rights. We stand with you. We are the new American resistance.”
Springsteen’s admission as an IRS scofflaw follows a controversy surrounding the property taxes on his Monmouth County, New Jersey home.
“Bruce Springsteen pays over $138,000 a year in taxes for his three-acre home in Colts Neck, New Jersey,” Jason Mattera wrote in his book Hollywood Hypocrites. “He owns another 200 adjoining acres. But because he has a part-time farmer come and grow a few tomatoes (organic, of course) and has horses, his tax bill on the remaining 200 acres is just $4,639 bucks. Do the math. By being a fake farmer, the working-class zero Springsteen is making a mint by robbing New Jersey of the antipoverty program funds he says they desperately need.”
Though overtly political themes seldom make their way into Springsteen’s songs—“American Skin (41 Shots),” which addressed the police killing of Amadou Diallo, and “Devils & Dust,” which explores a soldier’s experiences in Iraq, stand as two exceptions—marathon concerts increasingly witness marathon harangues regarding affirmative action, immigration, and other topics not on the official setlist.
Occasionally, the stage cannot contain his political expression, and the songwriter becomes op-ed writer.
“We granted tax cuts to the richest 1 percent (corporate bigwigs, well-to-do guitar players),” Springsteen complained in 2004 of the George W. Bush administration in the New York Times, “increasing the division of wealth that threatens to destroy our social contract with one another and render mute the promise of ‘one nation indivisible.’”
File under: 1111 Constitution Avenue Freeze Out.