What is Chris Tucker's net worth? How did the highly recognizable actor known for his roles in the Rush Hour movies, The Fifth Element, and more make his money and what can we learn from the star's finances?

Chris Tucker

In celebration of Black History Month in 2012, Canadian Film Centre, Clement Virgo Productions, and TD presented an evening honoring Chris Tucker.  Image by Canadian Film Centre [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Exact details on Chris Tucker's financial situation are tough to nail down, as he has not given official public statements on the specifics of his situation, but some sources suggest that the thespian is deep in debt after tax problems and has a net worth of roughly -$11.5 million, while others suggest the figure is around $5 million. As recently as 2014, the funnyman was telling an audience about his financial troubles,, while a representative of Tucker told CNN in 2014 that a four-year IRS audit stemmed from "poor accounting and business management."

In 2014, a Forbes article reported that Chris Tucker had apparently racked up roughly $14 million in unpaid back taxes, before making a deal with the IRS to settle the debt. Given that Chris Tucker was once the highest-paid actor in Hollywood, his stretches of financial difficulties may provide a worthwhile cautionary tale for the average person and give some insight into recommendable practices for maintaining and building wealth.

How did Chris Tucker make his money?
Chris Tucker made his mainstream acting debut with a small role in House Party 3. This exposure was followed by a role in the cult classic film Friday, in which Tucker played one of two men who, according to IMDB, "smoke up a dope dealer's weed and try to figure a way to get the $200 they owe the dope dealer by 10:00pm that night." Another sequel in the series has been cited as one possible way for Tucker to improve his finances.

Tucker's iconic performance in Friday jump-started his career, with his next major role coming in the 1997 sci-fi classic The Fifth Element, in which he delivered a scene stealing turn as flamboyant radio superstar Ruby Rhod. The year proved to be a big one for Tucker, starring alongside Charlie Sheen in Money Talks and turning in a supporting role in Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown. Tucker's career from this point on suggests that he has been fairly selective with the roles he takes, having starred in only four wide-release movies after 1997.

1998 saw the release of Rush Hour, a vehicle pairing Chris Tucker with martial arts legend Jackie Chan and the start of the franchise that would make Tucker the highest-paid man in Hollywood. Rush Hour was a breakout hit, generating $244 million worldwide, a figure that looks small in the modern climate characterized by huge international growth, but one that was very impressive at the time. The success of the film allowed Tucker to command a reported n $20 million salary for 2001's Rush Hour 2, the most successful movie in the series at roughly $347 million worldwide.

Six years passed before the next entry in the series was released, with co-star Jackie Chan indicating that the gap was at least partially because of Tucker's salary demands. Time Warner's New Line Cinema apparently judged Tucker's on-screen magnetism to be worth a high asking price, and reportedly granted the actor a $25 million salary, a mammoth deal for the actor, especially considering his last starring role had occurred several years prior. 2007's Rush Hour 3 disappointed at the box office with $258 million globally, and Tucker took another five-year hiatus before appearing in 2012's Silver Linings Playbook. The actor's first standup special is scheduled to air on Netflix this week.

What can we learn from Chris Tucker's net worth?
While a precise figure for Chris Tucker's net worth and the specifics of his finances are unknown to the public, some of the financial difficulties he has reportedly experienced can still provide valuable insight on money management. Suppose you're a small-business owner that had a good year relative to the average American in 2007 and made $250,000 in net income, or roughly a hundredth of what Tucker reportedly brought in for Rush Hour 3. Apportioning 70% of that sum for taxes and expenses would leave $75,000 for potential investing. It's a good idea to have some liquid assets, so let's set aside $15,000 in a low-interest savings account.

That would leave $60,000 to put in the market. Investing that money in a S&P 500 Index fund would have yielded roughly 34% returns from the start of 2007 to present day, leaving our small-business owner with $82,200 in stock assets. Liquidating those assets and applying a top rate 15% capital gains tax to the profits would leave our small-business owner with after-tax gains of $18,870, or an average gain of roughly $2,200 spread across eight years. It's nothing to scoff at, but let's take a look at what that money would have earned in if invested in popular companies.

MSFT Total Return Price Chart

MSFT Total Return Price data by YCharts

Looking at total returns since the start of 2007, $60,000 invested in Microsoft would be worth $107,880 today. The same amount invested in PepsiCo stock would now be worth $104,454. If our hypothetical investor liked the look of Apple's iPhones and invested $60,000 in Apple stock, it would be worth about $481,560 today, just as a $6 million investment would be worth about $48.16 million and a $600 investment would have appreciated to roughly $4,815. Even more impressive, $600 invested in Netflix on Jan. 1, 2007, would be worth roughly $18,000 today.

Naturally, Apple's and Netflix's respective performances over that stretch are standouts, and most stock picks probably won't yield such incredible results, but even more modest gains add up to significant sums over time, and that's true whether you're on the Hollywood A-list or scooping popcorn at the theater.

Keith Noonan has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Netflix, and PepsiCo. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Netflix, and PepsiCo. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.