We May Have To Wait A Year For Decision In Michael Jackson Estate Tax Case

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We May Have To Wait A Year For Decision In Michael Jackson Estate Tax Case
Jul 27, 2018, 10:27am

The Estate of Michael Jackson's long slog through Tax Court has been providing entertainment for nearly five years. Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009.  The Tax Court petition was filed August 14, 2013, which is pretty quick work.  The estate tax return, with a six month extension, was due in early 2011.  Then there is the audit and a trip to appeals and finally the IRS and the estate agreeing to disagree and the IRS issuing a notice of deficiency, the Estate's ticket to tax court which had to be cashed in ninety days.  The trial was on February 6, 2017.

Due to the Tax Court's lamentable lack of electronic transparency and my own thriftiness, I have to rely on new reports for the essence of the dispute.  Hannah Karp summed it up in the Wall Street Journal .

The estate said it considered his name and likeness essentially worthless, valuing it at $2,105, as Mr. Jackson’s reputation was then tainted by child-abuse allegations and his strange public behavior.

She goes on

But the IRS argues that the pop star’s name and likeness should have been valued at $161 million; that would be down from 2013, when it valued those rights at $434 million.

    “No celebrity’s name and likeness rights have sold for anywhere near that much—not Elvis, not Marilyn, not Ali. And Michael did not make that much from his name and likeness—as opposed to his music—in his lifetime,” said Mr. Weitzman, noting that he only earned about $50 million from those rights while he was alive. “They are trying to take what Michael’s estate created for his children after death and extract an unreasonable and excessive tax.”

FILE - In this March 5, 2009 file photo, singer Michael Jackson announces that he is set to play ten live concerts in London. Jackson, who died in 2009, keeps his 1.8 million followers informed with new music and videos. In May 2015, his label EPIC Record and the Estate of Michael Jackson premiered the singer's "A Place with No Name" video on the social network. The tweet has garnered more than 2.7 million views, helping gain 136,000 followers in one day. A spokesperson from Jackson's estate said they're always trying to find different ways to attract new fans for the "King of Pop." (AP Photo/Joel Ryan, File)

Has There Ever Been Anything Like This?

The case that this reminds me of the most is the Estate of Virginia C Andrews.  VC Andrews had this series of "children in peril" novels beginning with Flowers in The Attic in 1979, which was really creepy and enough of the series for me.   After she died in 1986, Andrew Neiderman continued the series under the VC Andrews name.  What was that name worth when VC Andrews died?  The IRS has the benefit of hindsight and could see that the sequels made money for the estate, but it was hardly a sure thing when she died.



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