Shakira is set to stand trial for six alleged tax crimes in Spain, and many are wondering if the Colombian-born star will actually face jail time.

Shakira, 45, whose given name is Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, has been accused of avoiding paying €14.5 million (around $16.4 million USD) in taxes by the Spanish Tax Agency.

Prosecutors in Barcelona claimed that the popstar did not pay taxes between 2012 and 2014 despite having her tax residence in Spain, and have called for an eight-year prison sentence and a multimillion-euro fine.

Shakira has denied these charges and turned down a plea deal, opting to go to trial. She has argued that she had a legal residency in the income-tax-free Bahamas during the time in question, which became a family home for her and her former partner, Barcelona footballer Gerard Piqué, and their two children. Shakira announced her split from Piqué in June.

Here, Shakira attends the screening of “Elvis” during the 75th annual Cannes film festival at Palais des Festivals on May 25, 2022 in Cannes, France. Shakira will stand trial for tax evasion in Spain but one lawyer believes the odds are in the singer’s favor.
Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

While the date for the upcoming trial has not yet been set, many fans are now wondering what Shakira’s chances are of avoiding any jail time. To tax attorney Isaac Abad of Spain-based Abad & Associates Lawyers and Accountants, the odds are in Shakira’s favor.

“Shakira has paid 14 million euros to the Tax Office and three million euros of interest, so she has paid 17 million,” Abad told Newsweek. “This is what is called a crime mitigator. If you pay before the trial begins, [it is] part of the compensation, then this is normally understood as crime mitigation.”

Abad added that if the judge considers the civil liability from the mitigation, and rules that it is unlikely the offender would commit another crime, it could reduce the penalty that authorities are calling for.

“So in this case, even when the news [is] saying, ‘Well they are asking for eight years for Shakira to go to jail,’ it’s highly improbable,” he said.

He added that the judge will have to decide if she is capable of committing another crime in the future, as well as consider the evidence that she lived in Spain during the period of time when she was allegedly avoiding the taxes.

But even with something like the 183-day rule, which states that a person who spends 183 days or more in one country owes worldwide taxes to that country, Abad does not think it would be enough to put Shakira behind bars.

“I think that even if the judge at the end considers that she was in Spain for more than 183 days every year and even if they consider that she has been acting in bad faith, I don’t think that it will put her in jail,” he said.

He also added that the superstar and the prosecutors may very well reach a settlement before the trial even begins. “They’re not trying to hurt Shakira’s freedom,” Abad said. “They want the money, and that’s all. But, in order to reach an agreement, she will have to admit that what she has done is wrong.”

With many factors the judge will have to consider, as well as evidence brought in from both sides should an agreement not be reached, Abad still said, “I think that she can rest well at night by knowing she’s not going to know the prisons of Barcelona.”

Newsweek reached out to a representative for Shakira for comment.


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