IRS Wants Almost $8 Million From Aretha Franklin’s Estate

December 28, 2018 Updated: December 28, 2018
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The IRS, a lawyer, and a publishing company are all demanding money from the estate of Aretha Franklin.

The singer died earlier this year at the age of 76. TMZ obtained documents showing that the Queen of Soul owes the IRS $6.3 million in taxes, plus $1.5 million in penalties, dating back to 2012.

The IRS filed the claim this month. However, an attorney for Franklin’s estate claimed the estate already paid $3 million in back taxes, the Associated Press reported.

“We have a tax attorney. All of her returns have been filed,” Franklin estate attorney David Bennett told the Associated Press. “We have disputes with the IRS regarding what they claim was income. We claim its double-dipping income because they don’t understand how the business works.”

Bennett said the situation isn’t as straightforward as the debt suggests.

“She had to pay for transportation, hotel rooms, backup singers, musicians. When she did that the IRS was questioning the returns she filed,” Bennett said, via the Associated Press. “We’re going through audits. Returns were filed as timely as we could get them filed.”

In October, TMZ reported that one of Franklin’s lawyers was also looking for additional compensation. The law firm of Gregory Reed hadn’t been paid by Franklin since 2012, despite services that included helping negotiate her final recording contract. Gregory Reed is seeking $54,000 from Franklin’s estate.

TMZ also reported that a publishing company wants $136,000 from Franklin’s estate, for royalties from Franklin’s 1973 song “Angel.”

Part of the disarray with Franklin’s financial troubles and debts after her death was caused by the lack of a will or trust. Franklin died in August from pancreatic cancer. She was reportedly worth $80 million. CNBC reported that she is one of many celebrities who have faced a similar situation after passing.

The New York Times reported that Franklin set a standard in music, one that has carried over into shows like “Showtime at the Apollo,” “American Idol,” and “The Voice,” in their unconscious or conscious hopes to find a singer with a voice as big and powerful as Franklin’s.

The NY Times said that Franklin, along with Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, Otis Redding, Tina Turner, and Patti LaBelle, signaled a new era in pop music.

A NY Times video points out that her she went stretches without much success, despite over 100 singles that charted, including 17 Top 10 pop singles, and 20 No. 1 R&B singles. In the video it is attributed to not having consistently successful songwriters.

“Respect” is Franklin’s most enduring song. Originally written by Otis Redding as a relationship song, it was imbued with new meaning after Franklin sang it, according to the NY Times.

Franklin’s singing range was most famously put on display when she had to fill in for opera legend Luciano Pavarotti during the 1998 Grammys. She sang “Nessun dorma” on 20 minutes notice, according to The New Yorker.

She has also sung work by newer artists, including her own magical take on Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep, which she sang on the Late Show with David Letterman, The New Yorker reported.