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When I wrote “Opinion: MJ Estate vs. IRS basics and catalog valuations ”, I expected it to be a hot topic and create discussions. However I did not expect it to result in personal attacks and insults. Call me naive but I expect grown adults to be able to handle difference of opinions with respect and maturity.
 
 Today in addition to the cursing and personal attacks, I received valid questions (coming from people with strong opposing views but able to express themselves respectfully) and I realized there’s at least one confusion due to the fact that I was trying to keep the original article as short and as simple as possible. I decided to start by doing a clarification and then answer some valid questions I received today.
 
Beatles Expert Bruce Spizer issue
 
In the original article I wrote : “TMZ posted a valuation from Beatles expert / tax attorney Bruce Spizer who said “the catalog definitely worth at least $300 Million and could be as much as $400 Million”. TMZ and some fans failed to realize that this valuation actually would confirm Estate’s valuations. If the catalog is definitely worth at least $300 Million (market value/gross value) and if you deduct $300 Million in liabilities the shown on return / net value/ tax value would be $0.”
 
As you can see from the above quote I fully acknowledged Bruce Spizer’s credentials as a Beatles Expert and a tax attorney. Before I go on, let’s do a reminder about TMZ articles.
 
On February 8, 2014 TMZ wrote “The Estate valued Michael's interest in a trust that owns songs by MJ and the Beatles at ZERO! The IRS says its more like $469 million.”
 
TMZ was victim to the same confusion as many of the fans. TMZ had taken and reported the “shown on return” values as market values. Not knowing the loan amounts on specific catalogs and/or not reading footnotes had made them confuse the tax value / shown on return value and the market value.
 
The next day February 9, 2014 , TMZ published a quote from Bruce Spizer – Beatles expert and tax attorney- which said the “Beatles collection is definitely worth minimum $300 million and could be as much as $400 million.” He continued to add “ For the Estate to list the value at zero, they lose all credibility."
 
On February 10,2014 Estate sources reached out to TMZ and TMZ published “Estate never suggested the Beatles catalog was worth ZERO -- to the contrary they agree it's worth around $1.5 BILLION.” TMZ went on to explain the loans on the catalog.
 
All of these combined once again prove my original point that there was/is a confusion with tax value and market value and Estate had never market valued the catalog at zero.
 
When Bruce Spizer made his comment he was under the impression that Estate market valued it at 0. That was never the case. As Estate has never list the market value of the catalog at zero, they couldn’t lose any credibility.
 
As for Spizer’s valuation, it’s not really clear if he’s valuing only the ATV (Beatles songs) or the SONY/ATV (the whole catalog). However as he’s a Beatles expert, let’s assume he’s only valuing the Beatles songs. It’s also not clear if his “$300 to $400” is for the whole Beatles songs or Michael’s share 50%. Regardless of how you approach to his valuation you would realize that Estate’s valuation of Sony/ATV is higher than Spizer’s valuation of Beatles songs. (50% of $1.5 billion = $750 Million. $750 Million is bigger than $300 - $400 M) So as Estate is valuing Sony/ATV higher than ATV only there’s no problem in that regard either.
 
Furthermore let me point out that at no place in the original article, I declared any valuation calculation as correct or wrong. To the contrary I stated we didn’t know which valuation is correct. So at no time I said Spizer’s market valuation was wrong. However I believe he didn’t account for the loans on the catalogs. The third article by TMZ quoting Estate sources would explain the loans on the catalogs and how deducting the loans brought the tax value to 0. Bruce Spizer could be the best Beatles expert out there but that doesn’t mean he knows anything about loans on MJ’s catalog.
 
Now let’s answer some questions. I was sent these questions on twitter by a fan with strong opposing views in this topic than mine. As he was respectful (when compared to others) in the way he asked them, I replied to him. I’ll copy my answers here and elaborate a little more on them here.
 
Question: There is no need to debunk Ivy when it comes to taxes. The real lawyers will do that!
 
Answer: I never made any claims about who is right or wrong on valuation of the catalogs so there isn't really anything to debunk. I was merely explaining the difference between market value and tax value and how Estate determined tax value to be $0. As you will see in an answer below I completely agree that this is a matter that would be solved in a court of law.
 
Question: when did u Ivy become an Estate Tax Attorney?? Its way more complicated then any FAN can explain away!
 
Answer: Yes asset value calculations are way more complicated than any fan can explain and I didn't try to explain valuations or claim who is right in that regard. Furthermore if you read the original piece you would see that I wrote valuation of very specific assets such as American Western Art and Music catalogs require expertise. Fans (neither me nor you) have that expertise.
 
However the difference between market value and tax value is simple enough for anyone to understand. It doesn't require anyone to be an attorney. Don't you think anyone with an average intelligence can understand tax value equals market value minus liabilities?
 
Also I would imagine that any adult that has ever filed an income tax return would know that the taxable income is gross income minus deductions. It’s the exactly the same logic for the Estate tax.
 
Question: let’s let the REAL lawyers handle this 1 because the estate may not be as innocent as u want ppl 2 think!
 
Answer: Real lawyers will handle this in a court of law. I did state that. My opinion or blogging etc. has no effect on the outcome of the tax court proceedings. So you and everyone else can calm down. This also shows that how meaningless all these fighting are. My opinion piece wouldn't result in Estate winning the tax dispute; someone attacking me wouldn't result in IRS winning. So we can all chill.
 
I always say a lawsuit is won/lost in a courtroom and the only parties that have any effect on the outcome is lawyers, judge and jury. I never understood why people think what we post on our blogs, wrote as comments on forums or tweeted had any effect on the outcome of a case. It simply doesn't. So all the fighting is actually all for nothing.
 
Question: Would u be surprised if Branca was caught stealing/ from Mike AGAIN??!!
 
Answer: He was never caught stealing from MJ. An investigation was done but no proof was found. So I'm not sure what you are basing "caught stealing" on.
 
Question: it’s even easier 4 him to embezzle and steal from his estate since mike is dead and he's in charge now
 
Answer: I disagree. The Estate is going through probate and is under the watch of a superior court judge and IRS. If anything it would make it a whole a lot harder to embezzle.
 
Question: does Ivy work for the estate?! How is she able to get supposed info?? Does she have those docs?!
 
Answer: No I don’t work for the Estate. Actually this is a common question from people that aren't from USA and/or isn't experienced in the court system in US. Court documents are public record in USA. Anyone can get a copy as long as they pay for copying costs. Depending on the court, documents can be acquired from Public Access to Court Electronic Records, courts own website, from the court clerk’s office in person and by mail request. That’s how I acquire the court documents. I do not need Estate or anyone else to give them to me. If you want you can get them too.
 
Final note: I'm very careful about how I label what I present. I deliberately made it very clear that it's an opinion piece nothing more and I openly mentioned the limitations of the available information. While anyone is free to not agree with my opinion, no one is in a place to "dictate" me what I can write or cannot write. Everyday millions of people express their opinions on various subjects on Internet, social media and so on. I have a right to free speech and I will continue to exercise it. If you don't like it, I recommend not reading / following what I do or post. No one is forcing you to read what I write. 
 
As Ricky Gervais once said Following someone on Twitter & then complaining about what they tweet about is like stalking someone & complaining that they walk too fast."
 
Simply put: Don't read it if you don't like it. Don't read it if you can't handle it. Remember Internet is just Internet and none of us have any power over the outcomes of the lawsuits in real life.