Aretha Franklin's Estate Disputes Claim She Owes More Than $8 Million to IRS

Aretha Franklin is being wrongfully pursued by the IRS, according to an attorney for the late Queen of Soul's estate.

According to legal documents obtained by TMZ, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) claims the singer, who passed away on Aug. 16 at the age of 76 of advance pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, owes nearly $8 million in a combination of back taxes and penalties. The Queen of Soul's estate, however, is disputing the claims.

"The IRS has filed its Proof of Claim in the ordinary course of the Estate proceeding," attorneys for the Aretha Franklin Estate told PEOPLE in a statement.

"This is not a liquidated claim and it is disputed by the Estate. The vast majority of Ms. Franklin's personal 1040 tax obligations were paid prior to her death – something she wished to occur. The Estate is diligently working to resolve any remaining issues," the statement continued.

The singer's estate is being audited by the IRS, which filed a claim this month in a county probate court north of Detroit claiming that Franklin owes more than $6.3 million in back taxes from 2012 to 2018 and $1.5 million in penalties.

Speaking to the Associated Press, David Bennett, one of the attorney's representing Franklin's estate, said that the estate has paid at least $3 million in back taxes to the IRS since her August death. He also alleged that all of Franklin's returns have been filed.

"We have a tax attorney. All of her returns have been filed. 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," he said. "She had to pay for transportation, hotel rooms, backup singers, musicians. When she did that the IRS was questioning the returns she filed. We're going through audits. Returns were filed as timely as we could get them filed."


Franklin died of pancreatic cancer in August in her Detroit apartment. At the time of her death, she left behind an estimated fortune of $80 million, including a number of properties, but she did not have a will. Several of those properties have since been sold, including a Detroit home that went for $300,000 and a mansion hat sold for $800,000.

Franklin's four sons – Clarence Franklin, Edward Franklin, Kecalf Franklin, and Ted White Jr. – will split her estate equally. Franklin's niece is acting as the executor.