Two things are virtually certain in life: death and taxes. But, one more should be added to the list where the two converge—an IRS audit. Indeed, this scenario played out all too well for the “King of Pop,” Michael Jackson’s, estate as shown in the United States Tax Court’s recent 271-page memorandum opinion. See Estate of Jackson v. Comm’r, T.C. Memo. 2021-48.
Although the lengthy opinion boiled down to general valuation and estate tax principles, it was noteworthy for several reasons. First, the Tax Court explicitly found that the IRS’ expert had perjured himself during trial, resulting in a significant discounting of his offered opinions to the court. Second, the Tax Court was called upon to value significant intangible assets of Mr. Jackson at the time of his death, including his image and likeness. Third, the opinion offers additional insights into how estates, unlike individuals, bear the burden of showing non-compliance with Section 6751(b) of the Code. Each of these are discussed more fully below.