Lauryn Hill's sentencing for tax evasion has been delayed to give her time to pay the money she owes and avoid jail. But she was scolded by the judge for reneging on a promise to settle her bill.
The former Fugees star pleaded guilty last June to not paying federal taxes on 1.8 million dollars earned from 2005 to 2007. At that time, her attorney said she would pay by the time of her sentencing.
Hill appeared in court in New Jersey where it was revealed she has paid 50,000 of a total of 554,000 dollars owed in restitution.
US Magistrate Judge Madeline Cox Arleo criticised her for relying on the promise of a recording contract to pay the tax bill.
"This is not someone who stands before the court penniless," the judge said. "This is a criminal matter. Actions speak louder than words, and there has been no effort here to pay these taxes."
The reclusive singer didn't speak during the proceeding and left the court without commenting. The sentencing was rescheduled for May 6.
Her lawyer Nathan Hochman said he would seek a probationary sentence for the 37-year-old singer who has six children, five of whom she had with Rohan Marley, the son of famed reggae singer Bob Marley.
The total Hill owes is in dispute. Hochman contends it is slightly less than one million dollars, counting civil penalties and interest, while the US attorney's office estimates it at a little more than one million. Hochman accused the government of trying to pad the amount because once it surpasses one million, the jail sentence under federal guidelines would increase from 24 to 30 months to 30 to 36 months.
After the proceeding, Hochman said Hill was about to sign a loan against two properties that would allow her to pay the remainder of the restitution before her next court date.
He also claimed Hill has a recording contract but hasn't yet realised any revenue from it.