‘Bad’ valuation of King of Pop estate, says IRS

BVWireIssue #131-4
August 28, 2013

Intellectual property, business interests, and a “contingency nonappearance and cancellation” policy are among the assets the IRS says have been overvalued by the estate of Michael Jackson. The estate is fighting back, filing a petition in Tax Court.

Not black or white: An article in Forbes points out how subjective valuation can be, which is heightened by this case. For example, it could be argued that the value of Jackson’s image and likeness at the date of his death was depressed because the star was mired in scandal and his star power wasn’t what it used to be. However, Jackson remains “firmly near the top of the Forbes list of Top Earning Dead Celebrities.” The estate “is likely going to argue that the singer’s future earning power was actually depressed and the subsequent boon to the estate, while nice, could not have been predicted as of the date of death,” says the article.

In terms of celebrities, valuation hinges on how the public views the celebrity. But the public has a short memory, so people can soon forget about the “bad stuff, including the scandals, the violence and the addictions. Sometimes, at death, the drunk becomes the artistic genius.”

The case is: Estate of Michael J. Jackson, Deceased, John G. Branca, Co-Executor and John McClain, Co-Executor, Petitioner(s) v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, Respondent (017152-13 U.S. Tax Court).

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