Michael Jackson’s estate won a major years-long court battle after a US tax court found that the IRS inflated the value of his assets and image at the time of his death.
According to reports, “The IRS had put the value of three disputed aspects of Jackson’s worth at the time of his 2009 death at about $482 million. This led to an estate tax bill for his heirs that was far too high given the King of Pop’s financial situation when he died. In his decision issued Monday, Judge Mark Holmes put that figure at $111 million, far closer to the estate’s own estimates.”
“We’re pleased. We always try to do the right thing. We tried from the beginning to follow the IRS rules and regulations, and relied on the best experts possible. It’s unfortunate that we were forced to litigate to protect ourselves,” co-executor John Branca told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
The judge claimed to have mainly disagreed with the IRS over their value of Jackson’s image and likeness, which seemed to dwindle after multiple accusations of child molestation against the singer. The IRS gave an estimate of $161 million while Holmes ruled it was just $4.15 million.
“Despite Jackson’s acquittal on all counts at his 2005 trial, the allegations continued to dog him, and while Jackson was selling out dates for a planned world tour when he died, he could not find a sponsor or merchandise partner. “The fact that he earned not a penny from his image and likeness in 2006, 2007, or 2008 shows the effect those allegations had, and continued to have, until his death,” Holmes wrote in the 271-page decision.
After the two lawsuits involved in the 2019 documentary “Leaving Neverland” were dismissed this year, however, as well as the pandemic forcing many projects to be delayed, Jackson’s estate leaders feel like it will not be the perfect time to start promoting Jackson’s legacy.
“We’re at an absolute turning point,” Branca said. “I think people have come to realize that Michael was innocent of any charges and unable to protect himself. We’ve got a wonderful Broadway play coming, we’ll be reopening our Cirque du Soleil show soon and we’ve got some surprises coming.”
The judge noted that the estate has received massive success following Jackson’s death through his shows, concert films and several strategic moves to sell his assets. However, he also claimed that “the IRS appeared to be factoring those successes into its decisions rather than considering only the circumstances at the moment of Jackson’s death, when things were considerably more grim after several years of waning popularity, poor management and reckless spending from Jackson.”
The judge went on to mock the estate’s initial valuing of Jackson’s image and likeness at only $2,000, however, they were also “putting one of the best known celebrities in the world, the King of Pop, at the price of a heavily used 20-year-old Honda Civic.”
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.