Beanie Babies Creator Will Plead Guilty to Tax Evasion

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In a rare appearance, Ty Warner, creator of Beanie Babies toys, attends the American International Toy Fair to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Beanie Babies toy line in New York City, on Feb. 16, 2003.
Chris Hondros / Getty Images

In a rare appearance, Ty Warner, creator of Beanie Babies toys, attends the American International Toy Fair to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Beanie Babies toy line in New York City, on Feb. 16, 2003.

Correction Appended Sept. 20, 2013

Remember Beanie Babies, those plush animal-shaped bean bags that you (may have) thought would be a worthwhile investment in the ‘90s? Their creator, Ty Warner, is now on the hook for ducking taxes shortly after the Beanie Baby craze ended.

The Department of Justice announced Wednesday that Warner, 69, will plead guilty to tax evasion. The DOJ’s charge alleges that Warner stashed more than $93 million in a secret offshore account at the United Bank of Switzerland between 1996 and 2002, the peak of Beanie mania. In 2002 Warner failed to pay more than $1.2 million in taxes owed on the $3.1 million in income generated through investments in the Swiss account that year. Warner’s prosecutor says that the toy mogul will pay more than $53 million total in civil penalties, according to NPR. He could also face jail time—tax evasion carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Warner, whose net worth is pegged at $2.6 billion by Forbes, is just the latest in a line of wealthy businessmen with offshore accounts being targeted by the Internal Revenue Service. In 2009 the agency hatched a deal with UBS in order to gain access to the financial information of thousands of Americans with offshore accounts in exchange for less severe charges against the Swiss bank. The IRS initiative has since spread to other Swiss banks and financial institutions in India, Israel and Barbados. The U.S.  has charged  more than 60 U.S. taxpayers and 30 banking professionals in the crackdown. An amnesty program through which taxpayers can declare their offshore holdings and divert them back to American banks has had more than 38,000 participants and generated billions of dollars in back taxes and civil penalties, according to the Department of Justice.

While Warner is best known for creating one biggest fads of the ‘90s, he also owns number of hotels and resorts around the U.S., including the Four Seasons hotel in New York. Plush toys with Beanie branding are still sold on the Ty Inc. website.

Correction

The original version of this story stated that Ty Warner was paying more than $53 million in civil penalties and back taxes. That figure only includes civil penalties. 

3 comments
RockDadRice
RockDadRice

He'll be put in a cell with Obama's half cousin, "Beanie Bubba".

CandiCane
CandiCane

Finally. The IRS will now have more money so that Congress can invest it in important programs.