Posted by Ryan Matsunaga @ryanmatsu
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Ryan Matsunaga

Royce Gracie has planned a return to MMA next month, but first he'll have to get past a much bigger challenge: the US government.

The IRS began investigating Gracie back in in 2012, when he and his wife received an administrative summons, "seeking information about their foreign bank and foreign investment activities," in order to evaluate, "among other things, [the Gracies'] liability for civil penalties."

The investigation continued for the next three years, with the Gracie's lawyer getting involved in the back-and-forth. An IRS investigator alleged that the Gracie's had dodged over $650,000 in taxes.

Then, in April of last year, things escalated when the IRS concluded that the two owed $1.15 million in back taxes and penalties.

Apparently, Royce and his wife had been filing for years under the "Earned Income Credit" system, a subsidy for low-income families, by hiding their money in off-shore accounts.

If the case does proceed to a trial, it has been scheduled to take place on June 6 in Philadelphia, PA.

Many are curious if Royce Gracie's recent decision to return to the professional MMA scene after a 9 year lay-off may be related to his IRS problems. After all, $1.15 million is no laughing matter, and Royce may be hurting for funds to pay off any future settlement.

Regardless, he'll face Ken Shamrock in a trilogy match-up at Bellator 149 on February 19.