Reclusive Grammy-winning singer Lauryn Hill responded on Friday to charges of failing to file federal income tax returns, saying she had chosen to "defer" payments during a period of withdrawal from society to protect her family's safety.
Hill, 37, who has not released an album since 2001 and has made only sporadic public appearances in the past six years, issued a lengthy statement on her tumblr website one day after being charged with failing to file taxes for three years.
The U.S. Department of Justice said Hill, best known for her Grammy-winning 1998 album "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill," filed no federal returns from 2005 to 2007 despite an income of more than $1.8 million primarily from film and recording royalties.
"My intention has always been to get this situation rectified," the former member of the Fugees wrote on Friday.
Hill is scheduled to appear in court in New Jersey on the tax charges on June 29.
In her statement, Hill said she had only stopped paying taxes "when it was necessary to withdraw from society in order to guarantee the safety and well-being of myself and my family."
Hill, who has six children, gave few specifics in her rambling statement, in which she railed against manipulation by "a media protected military industrial complex", the commercialization of the music industry and of having her freedom of speech compromised.
"I did not deliberately abandon my fans, nor did I deliberately abandon any responsibilities, but I did however put my safety, health and freedom and the freedom, safety and health of my family first over all other material concerns!" she said.
"Obviously, the danger I faced was not accepted as reasonable grounds for deferring my tax payments, as authorities, who despite being told all of this, still chose to pursue action against me, as opposed to finding an alternative solution," she said.
(Reporting By Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bill Trott)