Aretha Franklin Owes Nearly $8 Million to IRS

By Lisa M. Schaffer, Esq. on December 28, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

According to documents recently filed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Aretha Franklin owes the government nearly $8 million, based on $6.3 million in back taxes from 2012 to 2018, plus an additional $1.5 million in penalties. This is just one of a number of liens placed on the late singer's estate, and it's also not the first time she has been in trouble for not paying taxes.

Franklin's Estate May Have Already Paid Half of the Taxes Owed

Franklin died in August of pancreatic cancer without a will, and her estate is in probate in Oakland County, Michigan. According to Franklin's attorney, David Bennett, the IRS filed its claim this month in Oakland County Probate Court in Pontiac, Michigan, to recover what it claims Franklin owes. However, Bennett claims that about $3 million in back taxes had already been paid to the IRS after Franklin's death, and therefore he believes the $8 million figure is too high. Interestingly, Bennett has also filed documents demanding the estate pay $54,000 to cover legal bills during these same six years, from 2012 to 2018. Perhaps all of this is tied to the same set of facts.

Franklin May Have Been Tighter Than Two Coats of Paint

It wouldn't be unlike Franklin not to pay taxes owed. In 2008, Franklin claimed that an attorney's mistake caused her $700,000 mansion in Detroit to fall into foreclosure over $445 in missed taxes and late fees from 2005. However, it had previously been reported that Franklin owed over $19,000 in back taxes on that property through 2007. Also, Franklin had been sued by many creditors during the 1980s and 1990s. Perhaps Franklin, who worked very hard for her money, had an even harder time handing over large amounts of money owed. And perhaps that task will be easier for her now.

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