You record that correctly. A tax bill for SEVEN HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS. WTF?
It all has to do with the assessed value of Michael Jackson’s name and likeness. The estate thinks it’s worth zero, especially in light of all the awful allegations about his involvement with children. The IRS, eyeing the income the estate generates years after his death, begs to differ. That image is not only worth something, but a lot.
Digital Music News sums it up:
Jackson’s ‘likeness’ and ‘image’ had a value of $161 million at the time of his death, according to IRS calculations. But Michael Jackson’s tarnished reputation reduced his ‘value’ to nearly zero, lawyers have argued. To that, the IRS is calling bulls*&t, and charging $500 million in taxes plus a hefty $200 million for the funny business. That brings the grand total to $700 million… and counting.
The Wall Street Journal first unearthed the IRS notice.
“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,” attorney Howard Weitzman told the Journal. “They are trying to take what Michael’s estate created for his children after death and extract an unreasonable and excessive tax.”
This is weird and getting weirder.