IRS Hits Cardinals' Antrel Rolle With $2.2 Million Bill

The Internal Revenue Service says Arizona Cardinals safety Antrel Rolle understated his taxable income by more than 50% during his first two years in pro football, sending him a $2.2 million bill for back taxes, interest and penalties.

The IRS claims are contained in a previously unreported lawsuit Rolle filed in U.S. Tax Court against the agency. His petition asserts the IRS violated the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, denied him due process and failed to treat him in a "fair, professional and courteous manner." He complains the agency refused to transfer his tax audit from Sacramento to Los Angeles where his advisors and records were located and would not accept proffered documentation.

However, Rolle does not specifically dispute the IRS audit findings, which he attached to his pleading. The IRS findings state that it was discrepancies and inconsistencies in Rolle's own filings that accounted for most of the bill. Cited points included nonexistent or unlikely addresses, huge deductions claimed by Rolle for a personally run executive business and hard-to-locate churches listed as recipients of big cash gifts, with the amounts and descriptions of these donations changing.

Hiram M. Martin, the lawyer for Rolle in the tax case, declined comment Tuesday on specifics. Calling the matter "confidential," he said it was "totally inappropriate" for Forbes to have obtained his pleading. "I am outraged," he said. By law, Tax Court lawsuits are public record at the clerk's office in Washington, D.C.

Rolle is a new twist on what has become an epidemic of legal troubles plaguing NFL players. His case is a civil tax matter, and Rolle is the plaintiff. Recently New Orleans Saints defensive end Bobby McCray and Atlanta Falcons receiver Eric Weems were arrested for driving while under the influence, while Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Johnny Jolly and Falcons lineman Jonathan Babineaux were charged with drug offenses. None has admitted guilt. Player legal problems are so widespread that there is even a blog devoted to NFL-related crimes.

The hard-tackling Rolle, 27, just finished his fifth season in the National Football League, where he has developed into a top defensive free safety with a knack for turning interceptions into touchdowns. His last game was on Jan. 16, when a head injury forced his first-quarter departure during the Cardinals' 45-14 divisional playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints.

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