San Francisco Tax Preparation / CPA: Michael Jackson Estate Assets Valued

Filed in CCH NEWS FEED by on June 23, 2021

Michael Jackson’s image and likeness, as well as his interests in two trusts—one trust (NHT II) that held his interest in the Sony/ATV Music Publishing, LLC, and one trust (NHT III) that held Mijac Music—were valued for estate tax purposes.

Image and Likeness

The estate claimed that the decedent’s image and likeness was valued at about $2,000. However, at trial, the estate brought in additional experts and increased the value to about $3 million. This amount was based on a 10-year revenue projection, which examined pre-death revenue, post-death rights, and growth and decline rates using pre-death marketability and a potential post-death boom. An estimate of expenses incurred in administering the image and likeness and expenses related to rehabilitation of the decedent’s image reduced the revenue stream. As a result, the Tax Court determined that the date-of-death value of the decedent’s image was $4.1 million.

Interest in Sony/ATV

In the years prior to his death, the decedent had borrowed against his interest in the Sony/ATV company. The company was valued using the discounted cash flow method. After finding the value of the company as a whole, a discount for lack of control was applied to one-half of that amount to reflect the decedent’s 50-percent interest. Because of the debt secured by the interest, however, the Tax Court determined that the date-of-death value of NHT II was zero.

Interest in Mijac Music

The major asset of NHT III was Mijac Music, which owned compositions from many artists, including the decedent. The decedent also assigned the income he earned from his writer’s share of certain performance revenue to NHT III. The discounted cashflow analysis was used again and the court determined the revenue streams of Mijac Music and the writer’s share of revenue. After subtracting the trust’s liabilities from the revenue, the Tax Court determined the value of NHT III was $107 million.

No Penalties

Although the values differed widely, the estate was not liable for accuracy-related penalties. Its reliance on the appraisal values was reasonable.